Detection of Shared Balancing Selection in the Absence of Trans-Species Polymorphism

Xiaoheng Cheng, Michael Degiorgio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Trans-species polymorphism has been widely used as a key sign of long-term balancing selection across multiple species. However, such sites are often rare in the genome and could result from mutational processes or technical artifacts. Few methods are yet available to specifically detect footprints of trans-species balancing selection without using trans-species polymorphic sites. In this study, we develop summary- and model-based approaches that are each specifically tailored to uncover regions of long-term balancing selection shared by a set of species by using genomic patterns of intraspecific polymorphism and interspecific fixed differences. We demonstrate that our trans-species statistics have substantially higher power than single-species approaches to detect footprints of trans-species balancing selection, and are robust to those that do not affect all tested species. We further apply our model-based methods to human and chimpanzee whole-genome sequencing data. In addition to the previously established major histocompatibility complex and malaria resistance-associated FREM3/GYPE regions, we also find outstanding genomic regions involved in barrier integrity and innate immunity, such as the GRIK1/CLDN17 intergenic region, and the SLC35F1 and ABCA13 genes. Our findings not only echo the significance of pathogen defense but also reveal novel candidates in maintaining balanced polymorphisms across human and chimpanzee lineages. Finally, we show that these trans-species statistics can be applied to and work well for an arbitrary number of species, and integrate them into open-source software packages for ease of use by the scientific community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-199
Number of pages23
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of Shared Balancing Selection in the Absence of Trans-Species Polymorphism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this