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Genetics. 2002 Mar;160(3):1203-15.

An estimator for pairwise relatedness using molecular markers.

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom.


I propose a new estimator for jointly estimating two-gene and four-gene coefficients of relatedness between individuals from an outbreeding population with data on codominant genetic markers and compare it, by Monte Carlo simulations, to previous ones in precision and accuracy for different distributions of population allele frequencies, numbers of alleles per locus, actual relationships, sample sizes, and proportions of relatives included in samples. In contrast to several previous estimators, the new estimator is well behaved and applies to any number of alleles per locus and any allele frequency distribution. The estimates for two- and four-gene coefficients of relatedness from the new estimator are unbiased irrespective of the sample size and have sampling variances decreasing consistently with an increasing number of alleles per locus to the minimum asymptotic values determined by the variation in identity-by-descent among loci per se, regardless of the actual relationship. The new estimator is also robust for small sample sizes and for unknown relatives being included in samples for estimating allele frequencies. Compared to previous estimators, the new one is generally advantageous, especially for highly polymorphic loci and/or small sample sizes.

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