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Open Access Research article

Dependence of paracentric inversion rate on tract length

Thomas L York1*, Rick Durrett2 and Rasmus Nielsen13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA

2 Department of Mathematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA

3 Center for Bioinformatics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

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BMC Bioinformatics 2007, 8:115  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-115

Published: 3 April 2007



We develop a Bayesian method based on MCMC for estimating the relative rates of pericentric and paracentric inversions from marker data from two species. The method also allows estimation of the distribution of inversion tract lengths.


We apply the method to data from Drosophila melanogaster and D. yakuba. We find that pericentric inversions occur at a much lower rate compared to paracentric inversions. The average paracentric inversion tract length is approx. 4.8 Mb with small inversions being more frequent than large inversions.

If the two breakpoints defining a paracentric inversion tract are uniformly and independently distributed over chromosome arms there will be more short tract-length inversions than long; we find an even greater preponderance of short tract lengths than this would predict. Thus there appears to be a correlation between the positions of breakpoints which favors shorter tract lengths.


The method developed in this paper provides the first statistical estimator for estimating the distribution of inversion tract lengths from marker data. Application of this method for a number of data sets may help elucidate the relationship between the length of an inversion and the chance that it will get accepted.