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Penalba, Joshua V. and Wolf, Jochen B. W. (2020): From molecules to populations: appreciating and estimating recombination rate variation. In: Nature Reviews Genetics, Vol. 21, No. 8: pp. 476-492

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Genetic recombination is a fundamental biological process generating genetic variation by shuffling combinations of alleles. In this Review, Penalba and Wolf focus on how sequencing-based approaches are providing diverse insights into recombination rate variation across levels of biological organization and timescales, from individual gametes of single individuals to populations through evolutionary history. Recombination is a central biological process with implications for many areas in the life sciences. Yet we are only beginning to appreciate variation in the recombination rate along the genome and among individuals, populations and species. Spurred by technological advances, we are now able to bring variation in this key biological parameter to centre stage. Here, we review the conceptual implications of recombination rate variation and guide the reader through the assumptions, strengths and weaknesses of genomic inference methods, including population-based, pedigree-based and gamete-based approaches. Appreciation of the differences and commonalities of these approaches is a prerequisite to formulate a unifying and comparative framework for understanding the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms shaping, and being shaped by, recombination.

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