PLoS Genet 7(6): e1002127. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002127
Parallel Adaptive Divergence among Geographically Diverse Human Populations
Jacob A. Tennessen, Joshua M. Akey
Few genetic differences between human populations conform to the classic model of positive selection, in which a newly arisen mutation rapidly approaches fixation in one lineage, suggesting that adaptation more commonly occurs via moderate changes in standing variation at many loci. Detecting and characterizing this type of complex selection requires integrating individually ambiguous signatures across genomically and geographically extensive data. Here, we develop a novel approach to test the hypothesis that selection has favored modest divergence at particular loci multiple times in independent human populations. We find an excess of SNPs showing non-neutral parallel divergence, enriched for genic and nonsynonymous polymorphisms in genes encompassing diverse and often disease related functions. Repeated parallel evolution in the same direction suggests common selective pressures in disparate habitats. We test our method with extensive coalescent simulations and show that it is robust to a wide range of demographic events. Our results demonstrate phylogenetically orthogonal patterns of local adaptation caused by subtle shifts at many widespread polymorphisms that likely underlie substantial phenotypic diversity.