Natural selection in gene-dense regions shapes the genomic pattern of polymorphism in wild and domesticated rice

Jonathan M. Flowers, Jeanmaire Molina, Samara Rubinstein, Pu Huang, Barbara A. Schaal, Michael D. Purugganan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Levels of nucleotide variability are frequently positively correlated with recombination rate and negatively associated with gene density due to the effects of selection on linked variation. These relationships are determined by properties that frequently differ among species, including the mating system, and aspects of genome organization such as how genes are distributed along chromosomes. In rice, genes are found at highest density in regions with frequent crossing-over. This association between gene density and recombination rate provides an opportunity to evaluate the effects of selection in a genomic context that differs from other model organisms. Using single-nucleotide polymorphism data from Asian domesticated rice Oryza sativa ssp. japonica and ssp. indica and their progenitor species O. rufipogon, we observe a significant negative association between levels of polymorphism and both gene and coding site density, but either no association, or a negative correlation, between nucleotide variability and recombination rate. We establish that these patterns are unlikely to be explained by neutral mutation rate biases and demonstrate that a model of background selection with variable rates of deleterious mutation is sufficient to account for the gene density effect in O. rufipogon. In O. sativa ssp. japonica, we report a strong negative correlation between polymorphism and recombination rate and greater losses of variation during domestication in the euchromatic chromosome arms than heterochromatin. This is consistent with Hill-Robertson interference in low-recombination regions, which may limit the efficacy of selection for domestication traits. Our results suggest that the physical distribution of selected mutations is a primary factor that determines the genomic pattern of polymorphism in wild and domesticated rice species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-687
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Hill-Robertson
  • background selection
  • deleterious mutation
  • domestication
  • hitchhiking
  • interference
  • selfing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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