A comparison of microsatellite-based pairwise relatedness estimators

Molecular Ecology
Tom Van de CasteeleE Matthysen


Studies of inbreeding depression or kin selection require knowledge of relatedness between individuals. If pedigree information is lacking, one has to rely on genotypic information to infer relatedness. In this study we investigated the performance (absolute and relative) of 10 marker-based relatedness estimators using allele frequencies at microsatellite loci obtained from natural populations of two bird species and one mammal species. Using Monte Carlo simulations we show that many factors affect the performance of estimators and that different sets of loci promote the use of different estimators: in general, there is no single best-performing estimator. The use of locus-specific weights turns out to greatly improve the performance of estimators when marker loci are used that differ strongly in allele frequency distribution. Microsatellite-based estimates are expected to explain between 25 and 79% of variation in true relatedness depending on the microsatellite dataset and on the population composition (i.e. the frequency distribution of relationship in the population). We recommend performing Monte Carlo simulations to decide which estimator to use in studies of pairwise relatedness.


May 13, 2009·Journal of Applied Genetics·E Bomcke, N Gengler
Dec 3, 2002·Nature Reviews. Genetics·Allen J Moore, Penelope F Kukuk
May 21, 2010·The Journal of Heredity·Anders Gonçalves da SilvaM A Russello
Mar 19, 2003·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Michael KrützenRobert Brooks
Jan 24, 2008·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Josephine M Pemberton
May 29, 2009·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Vicente García-NavasJuan José Sanz
Jul 29, 2005·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·Stuart C Thomas
Apr 7, 2007·PLoS Genetics·Caroline M NievergeltNicholas J Schork
Dec 24, 2010·PloS One·Martin MendezPablo Bordino
Apr 22, 2010·Genetics·Cajo J F ter BraakMarco C A M Bink
Nov 2, 2007·Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B·Ken G DoddsBenoît Auvray
Mar 14, 2014·BMC Evolutionary Biology·Coraline BichetGabriele Sorci
Feb 19, 2009·TAG. Theoretical and applied genetics. Theoretische und angewandte Genetik·S MaenhoutG Haesaert
Aug 15, 2014·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Glenn YannicSteeve D Côté
Dec 19, 2003·Journal of Medical Entomology·Tovi LehmannWilliam A Hawley
Jul 28, 2012·Ecology·Aaron B A ShaferDavid W Coltman
Dec 19, 2015·Journal of Evolutionary Biology·A BontempsS Oddou-Muratorio
Sep 6, 2007·Molecular Ecology·Elizabeth A ArchieSusan C Alberts
Jul 21, 2005·Molecular Ecology·Duncan R SutherlandAndrea C Taylor
Aug 19, 2004·Molecular Ecology·M A Russello, G Amato
May 25, 2005·Molecular Ecology·Dany Garant, Loeske E B Kruuk
Jun 23, 2005·Molecular Ecology·David W Coltman
Aug 16, 2003·Molecular Ecology·Katriina TiiraCraig R Primmer
May 20, 2003·Molecular Ecology·Jeffrey C GlaubitzJ Andrew Dewoody
Dec 11, 2003·American Journal of Physical Anthropology·Anthony Di Fiore


Jul 1, 1995·Nature Genetics·D C RubinszteinM A Ferguson-Smith
Oct 14, 1994·Science·J A JiménezRobert C Lacy
Dec 1, 1993·Current Opinion in Genetics & Development·M W Bruford, R K Wayne
Jan 1, 1993·Human Heredity·C C LiA Chakravarti
Jun 10, 2000·Molecular Ecology·R W KaysR K Wayne
Aug 1, 1993·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·David C QuellerC R Hughes
Oct 1, 1996·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·P Jarne, P J Lagoda
Nov 1, 1996·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·P MarrowL D Hurst
Mar 1, 1983·Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution·Orlando A Schwartz, Kenneth B Armitage
Mar 1, 1989·Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution·David C Queller, Keith F Goodnight

Related Concepts

Short Tandem Repeat
Genetic Pedigree
Monte Carlo Method
Linkage Disequilibrium
Tetranucleotide Repeats
Silo (Dataset)

Trending Feeds


Coronaviruses encompass a large family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as more serious diseases, such as the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19; formally known as 2019-nCoV). Coronaviruses can spread from animals to humans; symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties; in more severe cases, infection can lead to death. This feed covers recent research on COVID-19.

Sexual Dimorphism in Neurodegeneration

There exist sex differences in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. For instance, multiple sclerosis is more common in women, whereas Parkinson’s disease is more common in men. Here is the latest research on sexual dimorphism in neurodegeneration

HLA Genetic Variation

HLA genetic variation has been found to confer risk for a wide variety of diseases. Identifying these associations and understanding their molecular mechanisms is ongoing and holds promise for the development of therapeutics. Find the latest research on HLA genetic variation here.

Super-resolution Microscopy

Super-resolution microscopy is the term commonly given to fluorescence microscopy techniques with resolutions that are not limited by the diffraction of light. Here are the latest discoveries pertaining to super-resolution microscopy.

Genetic Screens in iPSC-derived Brain Cells

Genetic screening is a critical tool that can be employed to define and understand gene function and interaction. This feed focuses on genetic screens conducted using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived brain cells.

Brain Lower Grade Glioma

Low grade gliomas in the brain form from oligodendrocytes and astrocytes and are the slowest-growing glioma in adults. Discover the latest research on these brain tumors here.

CD4/CD8 Signaling

Cluster of differentiation 4 and 8 (CD8 and CD8) are glycoproteins founds on the surface of immune cells. Here is the latest research on their role in cell signaling pathways.

Alignment-free Sequence Analysis Tools

Alignment-free sequence analyses have been applied to problems ranging from whole-genome phylogeny to the classification of protein families, identification of horizontally transferred genes, and detection of recombined sequences. Here is the latest research.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease characterized by unexplained disabling fatigue; the pathology of which is incompletely understood. Discover the latest research on chronic fatigue syndrome here.