Revising how the computer program CERVUS accommodates genotyping error increases success in paternity assignment

Mol Ecol. 2007 Mar;16(5):1099-106. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03089.x.


Genotypes are frequently used to identify parentage. Such analysis is notoriously vulnerable to genotyping error, and there is ongoing debate regarding how to solve this problem. Many scientists have used the computer program CERVUS to estimate parentage, and have taken advantage of its option to allow for genotyping error. In this study, we show that the likelihood equations used by versions 1.0 and 2.0 of CERVUS to accommodate genotyping error miscalculate the probability of observing an erroneous genotype. Computer simulation and reanalysis of paternity in Rum red deer show that correcting this error increases success in paternity assignment, and that there is a clear benefit to accommodating genotyping errors when errors are present. A new version of CERVUS (3.0) implementing the corrected likelihood equations is available at

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Deer / genetics*
  • Genotype*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Software*