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Faculty Publication: Assistant Professor of Biology Bárbara Domingues Bitarello

May 5, 2023

Inferring Balancing Selection From Genome-Scale Data

Authors: Bitarello, Bárbara D.; Brandt, Debora Y. C.; Meyer, Diogo; Andres, Aida M.

Source: Genome Biology and Evolution, Volume: 15, Issue: 3, Article Number: evad032, DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evad032, March 2023

Type of Publication: Article

Abstract: The identification of genomic regions and genes that have evolved under natural selection is a fundamental objective in the field of evolutionary genetics. While various approaches have been established for the detection of targets of positive selection, methods for identifying targets of balancing selection, a form of natural selection that preserves genetic and phenotypic diversity within populations, have yet to be fully developed. Despite this, balancing selection is increasingly acknowledged as a significant driver of diversity within populations, and the identification of its signatures in genomes is essential for understanding its role in evolution. In recent years, a plethora of sophisticated methods has been developed for the detection of patterns of linked variation produced by balancing selection, such as high levels of polymorphism, altered allele-frequency distributions, and polymorphism sharing across divergent populations. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of classical and contemporary methods, offer guidance on the choice of appropriate methods, and discuss the importance of avoiding artifacts and of considering alternative evolutionary processes. The increasing availability of genome-scale datasets holds the potential to assist in the identification of new targets and the quantification of the prevalence of balancing selection, thus enhancing our understanding of its role in natural populations.

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