Mathematical Biology seminar

Joe Watkins
Dept of Mathematics
University of Arizona
"Microsatellite Mutation Models"
November 4, 2005
1:00pm, LCB 215

The mutations one finds in the genome have been extensively employed as a tool for dating genealogical events. For these purposes, one scans for polymorphic pieces of DNA and then develops mathematical models for their evolution. Questions that can be addressed using only neutral mutations over non-recombining regions of the DNA simplify both the model building and the ensuing statistical analysis. For the dating of the more recent events, the choice is the relatively rapidly mutating microsatellites. After reviewing the classical methods for microsatellite mutation models, this talk moves on to recent biochemical and biochemical analyses of mutational events and casts their evolution as a Markov process. We obtain exact results for the probability distributions for the change in microsatellite length over any given number of generations. If time permits, we will discuss some of the thermodynamic constraints of the models, and the use of these models in dating historical events. In particular, we will talk briefly about the project that provided impetus for this research, the peopling of Indonesia.