Inferring coalescence times from DNA sequence data

Genetics. 1997 Feb;145(2):505-18.


The paper is concerned with methods for the estimation of the coalescence time (time since the most recent common ancestor) of a sample of intraspecies DNA sequences. The methods take advantage of prior knowledge of population demography, in addition to the molecular data. While some theoretical results are presented, a central focus is on computational methods. These methods are easy to implement, and, since explicit formulae tend to be either unavailable or unilluminating, they are also more useful and more informative in most applications. Extensions are presented that allow for the effects of uncertainty in our knowledge of population size and mutation rates, for variability in population sizes, for regions of different mutation rate, and for inference concerning the coalescence time of the entire population. The methods are illustrated using recent data from the human Y chromosome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • DNA*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Time Factors


  • DNA