Haldane, Waddington and recombinant inbred lines: extension of their work to any number of genes

J Genet. 2017 Nov;96(5):795-800. doi: 10.1007/s12041-017-0837-0.


In the early 1930s, J. B. S. Haldane and C. H. Waddington collaborated on the consequences of genetic linkage and inbreeding. One elegant mathematical genetics problem solved by them concerns recombinant inbred lines (RILs) produced via repeated self or brother-sister mating. In this classic contribution, Haldane and Waddington derived an analytical formula for the probabilities of 2-locus and 3-locus RIL genotypes. Specifically, the Haldane-Waddington formula gives the recombination rate R in such lines as a simple function of the per generation recombination rate r. Interestingly, for more than 80 years, an extension of this result to four or more loci remained elusive. In 2015, we generalized the Haldane-Waddington self-mating result to any number of loci. Our solution used self-consistent equations of the multi-locus probabilities 'for an infinite number of generations' and solved these by simple algebraic operations. In practice, our approach provides a quantum leap in the systems that can be handled: the cases of up to six loci can be solved by hand while a computer program implementing our mathematical formalism tackles up to 20 loci on standard desktop computers.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Consanguinity*
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Software


  • Genetic Markers