Population-genomic inference of the strength and timing of selection against gene flow

Aeschbacher, Simon; Selby, Jessica P.; Willis, John H.; Coop, Graham (2017). Population-genomic inference of the strength and timing of selection against gene flow. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 114(27), pp. 7061-7066. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.1616755114

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The interplay of divergent selection and gene flow is key to understanding how populations adapt to local environments and how new species form. Here, we use DNA polymorphism data and genome-wide variation in recombination rate to jointly infer the strength and timing of selection, as well as the baseline level of gene flow under various demographic scenarios. We model how divergent selection leads to a genome-wide negative correlation between recombination rate and genetic differentiation among populations. Our theory shows that the selection density (i.e., the selection coefficient per base pair) is a key parameter underlying this relationship. We then develop a procedure for parameter estimation that accounts for the confounding effect of background selection. Applying this method to two datasets from Mimulus guttatus, we infer a strong signal of adaptive divergence in the face of gene flow between populations growing on
and off phytotoxic serpentine soils. However, the genome-wide intensity of this selection is not exceptional compared with what M. guttatus populations may typically experience when adapting to local conditions. We also find that selection against genomewide introgression from the selfing sister species M. nasutus has acted to maintain a barrier between these two species over at least the last 250 ky. Our study provides a theoretical framework for linking genome-wide patterns of divergence and recombination with the underlying evolutionary mechanisms that drive this differentiation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)

UniBE Contributor:

Aeschbacher, Simon


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




National Academy of Sciences NAS




Susanne Holenstein

Date Deposited:

23 Jul 2018 14:01

Last Modified:

28 Oct 2019 22:31

Publisher DOI:






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