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Quantifying evolutionary dynamics from variant-frequency time series

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journal contribution
posted on 12.08.2020 by Bhavin S Khatri
From Kimura's neutral theory of protein evolution to Hubbell's neutral theory of biodiversity, quantifying the relative importance of neutrality versus selection has long been a basic question in evolutionary biology and ecology. With deep sequencing technologies, this question is taking on a new form: given a time-series of the frequency of different variants in a population, what is the likelihood that the observation has arisen due to selection or neutrality? To tackle the 2-variant case, we exploit Fisher's angular transformation, which despite being discovered by Ronald Fisher a century ago, has remained an intellectual curiosity. We show together with a heuristic approach it provides a simple solution for the transition probability density at short times, including drift, selection and mutation. Our results show under that under strong selection and sufficiently frequent sampling these evolutionary parameters can be accurately determined from simulation data and so they provide a theoretical basis for techniques to detect selection from variant or polymorphism frequency time-series.

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