A maximum-likelihood estimation of pairwise relatedness for autopolyploids

Heredity (Edinb). 2015 Feb;114(2):133-42. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2014.88. Epub 2014 Nov 5.


Relatedness between individuals is central to ecological genetics. Multiple methods are available to quantify relatedness from molecular data, including method-of-moment and maximum-likelihood estimators. We describe a maximum-likelihood estimator for autopolyploids, and quantify its statistical performance under a range of biologically relevant conditions. The statistical performances of five additional polyploid estimators of relatedness were also quantified under identical conditions. When comparing truncated estimators, the maximum-likelihood estimator exhibited lower root mean square error under some conditions and was more biased for non-relatives, especially when the number of alleles per loci was low. However, even under these conditions, this bias was reduced to be statistically insignificant with more robust genetic sampling. We also considered ambiguity in polyploid heterozygote genotyping and developed a weighting methodology for candidate genotypes. The statistical performances of three polyploid estimators under both ideal and actual conditions (including inbreeding and double reduction) were compared. The software package POLYRELATEDNESS is available to perform this estimation and supports a maximum ploidy of eight.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Genotype
  • Heterozygote
  • Inbreeding
  • Inheritance Patterns
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Polyploidy*
  • Software