Is it possible to give a simple and intuitive explanation of the concept of linkage disequilibrium? You know, so I can sort of sound like I know what I'm talking about. Everything I read about it has me lost.

I am a writer and specifically I write lyrics and raps and I love this phrase "Linkage Disequilibrium". I would love to put it in a rap I'm writing about a friend of mine.

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    $\begingroup$ What have you read so far and what is your current understanding? Where specifically are you needing help with understanding? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ non-random assortment, torment / the haters who wanna split us, we don't even see 'em / wouldn't want to be 'em / me 'n my homie tight like alleles in linkage disequilibrium / we're correlated, ya see / you n' me, tied up in LD $\endgroup$
    – acvill
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ love to see spontaneous collaboration @acvill $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ I'd recommend looking at some learning resources (links). If you don't understand what you read, you are welcome to bring your thoughts here and ask for help with what doesn't make sense. biology.stackexchange.com/questions/31618/…, discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/…, faculty.washington.edu/tathornt/sisg2013/Kerr/3LD_Kerr.pdf $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ Just channeling my inner Aesop Rock, @MaximilianPress $\endgroup$
    – acvill
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


During sexual reproduction, the process of crossing-over means that parts of the maternal and paternal chromosomes become shuffled up with one another into chromosome 'chunks', as shown by the red and blue colours here:

enter image description here

We can tell by looking at this that if you had two genetic markers right next to each other on a chromosome that they very likely to be inherited together on the same chromosomal chunk. Similarly, if they are on opposite ends of the chromosome, they are much less likely to be inherited on the same chunk.

All other things being equal, we say that the markers close to each other are in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) with one another and markers further apart with be in lower LD with one another. In other words, the probability of recombination occurring between two markers, driven by physical distance and variable recombination rates is what causes differences in LD.

If we want to get a bit more in depth, then the recombination rate (i.e. the probability of a recombination event occurring between any two markers) varies across the genome. Something like a gene fusion event may totally impede recombination, meaning that region is always inherited as a single 'LD block'. This can result in things like supergenes in eusocial insects. Conversely, there are regions of very high recombination which reduce the amount of LD between markers.

  • $\begingroup$ This is not an intuitive answer or indeed a simple answer for a non-specialist. I am not a geneticist and was not familiar with this term, but I am an educator, so I would expect a good answer to start with a single sentence summary and then go on to explain any technical terms. For example if I do a web search I find statements like "Linkage disequilibrium is the non-random association of alleles of different loci." Now to explain it I would have to find a replacement for the word "allele" and clarify "loci" as the positions of genes, and then explain what is meant by association. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @David feel free to write your own answer then if you think you have a better way of explaining it $\endgroup$
    – user438383
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ No. I am not the student, not the teacher, but am explaining what is lacking in your explanation and suggesting how you might improve it. But it is not easy. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 23:40

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