Methods of parentage analysis in natural populations

Mol Ecol. 2003 Oct;12(10):2511-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-294x.2003.01928.x.


The recent proliferation of hypervariable molecular markers has ushered in a surge of techniques for the analysis of parentage in natural and experimental populations. Consequently, the potential for meaningful studies of paternity and maternity is at an all-time high. However, the details and implementation of the multifarious techniques often differ in subtle ways that can influence the results of parentage analyses. Now is a good time to reflect on the available techniques and to consider their strengths and weaknesses. Here, we review the leading techniques in parentage analysis, with a particular emphasis on those that have been implemented in readily useable software packages. Our survey leads to some important insights with respect to the utility of the different approaches. This review should serve as a useful guide to anyone who wishes to embark on the study of parentage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Genetic Markers / genetics*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Pedigree*


  • Genetic Markers