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Eur J Hum Genet. 2000 Feb;8(2):119-24.

A robust test for assortative mating.

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, USA.


Testing for random mating in human populations is difficult due to confounding factors such as ethnic preference and population stratification. With HLA, the high level of polymorphism is an additional problem since it is rare for couples to share the same haplotype. Focus on an ethnically homogeneous population, where levels of polymorphism at HLA loci are more limited, may provide the best situation in which to detect non-random mating. However, such populations are often genetic isolates where there may be inbreeding to an extent that is difficult to quantify and account for. We have developed a test for random mating at a multiallelic locus that is robust to stratification and inbreeding. This test relies on the availability of genotypic information from the parents of both spouses. The focus of the test is on families where there is allele sharing between the parents of both spouses, so that potential spouses could share an allele. Denoting the shared allele at the locus of interest by A, then under the assumption of random mating, heterozygous parents AX should transmit allele A equally as frequently as allele X to their offspring. When there is positive (negative) assortative mating, A will be transmitted more (less) often than X. The power of the test has been computed in a number of situations. Data on high resolution HLA haplotypes from the Hutterite population were reinvestigated by the proposed test. The test detects significant negative assortative mating when the parental origin of the shared haplotype is taken into account.

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