Population genetic models often use a population recombination parameter 4Nc, where N is the effective population size and c is the recombination rate per generation. In many ways 4Nc is comparable to 4Nu, the population mutation rate. Both combine genome level and population level processes, and together they describe the rate of production of genetic variation in a population. However, 4Nc is more difficult to estimate. For a population sample of DNA sequences, historical recombination can only be detected if polymorphisms exist, and even then most recombination events are not detectable. This paper describes an estimator of 4Nc, hereafter designated γ (gamma), that was developed using a coalescent model for a sample of four DNA sequences with recombination. The reliability of γ was assessed using multiple coalescent simulations. In general γ has low to moderate bias, and the reliability of γ is comparable, though less, than that for a widely used estimator of 4Nu. If there exists an independent estimate of the recombination rate (per generation, per base pair), γ can be used to estimate the effective population size or the neutral mutation rate.
- Received July 15, 1996.
- Accepted November 7, 1996.
- Copyright © 1997 by the Genetics Society of America