Chromosome-scale selective sweeps shape Caenorhabditis elegans genomic diversity
Andersen EC, Gerke JP, Shapiro JA, Crissman JR, Ghosh R, Bloom JS, Felix MA, Kruglyak L
(2012 Mar) Nature Genetics [ DOI | Pubmed | PMC ]


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is central to research in molecular, cell, and developmental biology, but nearly all of this research has been conducted on a single strain. Comparatively little is known about the population genomic and evolutionary history of this species. We characterized C. elegans genetic variation by high-throughput selective sequencing of a worldwide collection of 200 wild strains, identifying 41,188 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Unexpectedly, C. elegans genome variation is dominated by a set of commonly shared haplotypes on four of the six chromosomes, each spanning many megabases. Population-genetic modeling shows that this pattern was generated by chromosome-scale selective sweeps that have reduced variation worldwide; at least one of these sweeps likely occurred in the past few hundred years. These sweeps, which we hypothesize to be a result of human activity, have dramatically reshaped the global C. elegans population in the recent past.