Maximum likelihood estimation of frequencies of known haplotypes from pooled sequence data

Mol Biol Evol. 2013 May;30(5):1145-58. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst016. Epub 2013 Jan 30.


DNA samples are often pooled, either by experimental design or because the sample itself is a mixture. For example, when population allele frequencies are of primary interest, individual samples may be pooled together to lower the cost of sequencing. Alternatively, the sample itself may be a mixture of multiple species or strains (e.g., bacterial species comprising a microbiome or pathogen strains in a blood sample). We present an expectation-maximization algorithm for estimating haplotype frequencies in a pooled sample directly from mapped sequence reads, in the case where the possible haplotypes are known. This method is relevant to the analysis of pooled sequencing data from selection experiments, as well as the calculation of proportions of different species within a metagenomics sample. Our method outperforms existing methods based on single-site allele frequencies, as well as simple approaches using sequence read data. We have implemented the method in a freely available open-source software tool.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Gene Frequency / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S