WIAS Preprint No. 756, (2002)

Coalescence in a random background


  • Barton, Nick H.
  • Etheridge, Alison M.
  • Sturm, Anja K.

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 60J80 60J85 60J70 60K35


  • coalescent, selection, recombination, identity by descent, random environment




We consider a single genetic locus which carries two alleles, labelled 𝑃 and Q. This locus experiences selection and mutation. It is linked to a second neutral locus with recombination rate 𝑟. If 𝑟 = 0, this reduces to the study of a single selected locus. Assuming a Moran model for the population dynamics, we pass to a diffusion approximation and, assuming that the allele frequencies at the selected locus have reached stationarity, establish the joint generating function for the genealogy of a sample from the population and the frequency of the 𝑃 allele. In essence this is the joint generating function for a coalescent and the random background in which it evolves. We use this to characterise, for the diffusion approximation, the probability of identity in state at the neutral locus of a sample of two individuals (whose type at the selected locus is known) as solutions to a system of ordinary differential equations. The only subtlety is to find the boundary conditions for this system. Finally, numerical examples are presented that illustrate the accuracy and predictions of the diffusion approximation. In particular, a comparison is made between this approach and one in which the frequencies at the selected locus are estimated by their mean and a classical structured coalescent model is used.

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