We provide an overview of the use of kernel smoothing to summarize the quantitative trait locus posterior distribution from a Markov chain Monte Carlo sample. More traditional distributional summary statistics based on the histogram depend both on the bin width and on the sideway shift of the bin grid used. These factors influence both the overall mapping accuracy and the estimated location of the mode of the distribution. Replacing the histogram by kernel smoothing helps to alleviate these problems. Using simulated data, we performed numerical comparisons between the two approaches. The results clearly illustrate the superiority of the kernel method. The kernel approach is particularly efficient when one needs to point out the best putative quantitative trait locus position on the marker map. In such situations, the smoothness of the posterior estimate is especially important because rough posterior estimates easily produce biased mode estimates. Different kernel implementations are available from Rolf Nevanlinna Institute's web page (http://www.rni.helsinki.fi/;fjh).
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.