Population isolates are increasingly being used in attempts to map genes underlying complex diseases. To further explore the utility of isolates for this purpose, we explore linkage disequilibrium patterns in polymorphisms from two regions (VWF and NF1) in three isolated populations from Finland. At the NF1 locus, the Finnish populations have greater pairwise disequilibrium than populations from Africa, Asia, or northern Europe. However, populations from ‘New Finland’ and ‘Old Finland’ do not differ in their disequilibrium levels at either the NF1 or the VWF locus. In addition, disequilibrium patterns and haplotype diversity do not differ between a sample from the Åland Islands, Finland, and a collection of outbred Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain families. These results show that linkage disequilibrium patterns sometimes differ among populations with different histories and founding dates, but some putative isolated populations may not significantly differ from larger admixed populations. We discuss factors that should be considered when using isolated populations in gene-mapping studies.

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