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Genetics. Aug 1998; 149(4): 2079–2088.
PMCID: PMC1460273

A Bayesian characterization of Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium.


A Bayesian method for determining if there are large departures from independence between pairs of alleles at a locus, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE), is presented. We endorse the view that a population will never be exactly in HWE and that there will be occasions when there is a need for an alternative to the usual hypothesis-testing setting. Bayesian methods provide such an alternative, and our approach differs from previous Bayesian treatments in using the disequilibrium and inbreeding coefficient parameterizations. These are easily interpretable but may be less mathematically tractable than other parameterizations. We examined the posterior distributions of our parameters for evidence that departures from HWE were large. For either parameterization, when a conjugate prior was used, the prior probability for small departures was itself small, i.e., the prior was weighted against small departures from independence. We could avoid this uneven weighting by using a step prior which gave equal weighting to both small and large departures from HWE. In most cases, the Bayesian methodology makes it clear that there are not enough data to draw a conclusion.

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Selected References

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