Journal Article

Identification of distant family relationships

Øivind Skare, Nuala Sheehan and Thore Egeland

in Bioinformatics

Volume 25, issue 18, pages 2376-2382
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 1367-4803
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2059 | DOI:
Identification of distant family relationships

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Motivation: Family relationships can be estimated from DNA marker data. Applications arise in a large number of areas including evolution and conservation research, genealogical research in human, plant and animal populations, forensic problems and genetic mapping via linkage and association analyses. Traditionally, likelihood-based approaches to relationship estimation have used unlinked genetic markers. Due to the fact that some relationships cannot be distinguished from data at unlinked markers, and given the limited number of such markers available, there are considerable constraints on the type of identification problem that can be satisfactorily addressed with such approaches. The aim of this article is to explore the potential of linked autosomal single nucleotide polymorphism markers in this context. Throughout, we will view the problem of relationship estimation as one of pedigree identification rather than identity-by-descent, and thus focus on applications where determination of the exact relationship is important.

Results: We show that the increase in information obtained by exploiting large sets of linked markers substantially increases the number of problems that can be solved. Results are presented based on simulations as well as on real data.

Availability: The R library FEST is freely available from


Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Journal Article.  5494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

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