Assessing the performance of the haplotype block model of linkage disequilibrium

Am J Hum Genet. 2003 Sep;73(3):502-15. doi: 10.1086/378099. Epub 2003 Aug 11.


Several recent studies have suggested that linkage disequilibrium (LD) in the human genome has a fundamentally "blocklike" structure. However, thus far there has been little formal assessment of how well the haplotype block model captures the underlying structure of LD. Here we propose quantitative criteria for assessing how blocklike LD is and apply these criteria to both real and simulated data. Analyses of several large data sets indicate that real data show a partial fit to the haplotype block model; some regions conform quite well, whereas others do not. Some improvement could be obtained by genotyping higher marker densities but not by increasing the number of samples. Nonetheless, although the real data are only moderately blocklike, our simulations indicate that, under a model of uniform recombination, the structure of LD would actually fit the block model much less well. Simulations of a model in which much of the recombination occurs in narrow hotspots provide a much better fit to the observed patterns of LD, suggesting that there is extensive fine-scale variation in recombination rates across the human genome.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Haplotypes*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Recombination, Genetic