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Genetics. Dec 1999; 153(4): 1989–2000.
PMCID: PMC1460843

New methods employing multilocus genotypes to select or exclude populations as origins of individuals.


A new method for assigning individuals of unknown origin to populations, based on the genetic distance between individuals and populations, was compared to two existing methods based on the likelihood of multilocus genotypes. The distribution of the assignment criterion (genetic distance or genotype likelihood) for individuals of a given population was used to define the probability that an individual belongs to the population. Using this definition, it becomes possible to exclude a population as the origin of an individual, a useful extension of the currently available assignment methods. Using simulated data based on the coalescent process, the different methods were evaluated, varying the time of divergence of populations, the mutation model, the sample size, and the number of loci. Likelihood-based methods (especially the Bayesian method) always performed better than distance methods. Other things being equal, genetic markers were always more efficient when evolving under the infinite allele model than under the stepwise mutation model, even for equal values of the differentiation parameter F(st). Using the Bayesian method, a 100% correct assignment rate can be achieved by scoring ca. 10 microsatellite loci (H approximately 0.6) on 30-50 individuals from each of 10 populations when the F(st) is near 0.1.

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Selected References

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