An empirical assessment of individual-based population genetic statistical techniques: Application to British pig breeds

Samantha Wilkinson, Chris Haley, L. Alderson, P. Wiener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently developed Bayesian genotypic clustering methods for analysing genetic data offer a powerful tool to evaluate the genetic structure of domestic farm animal breeds. The unit of study with these approaches is the individual instead of the population. We aimed to empirically evaluate various individual-based population genetic statistical methods for characterization of genetic diversity and structure of livestock breeds. Eighteen British pig populations, comprising 819 individuals, were genotyped at 46 microsatellite markers. Three Bayesian genotypic clustering approaches, principle component analysis (PCA) and phylogenetic reconstruction were applied to individual multilocus genotypes to infer the genetic structure and diversity of the British pig breeds. Comparisons of the three Bayesian genotypic clustering methods (STRUCTURE, BAPS and STRUCTURAMA) revealed some broad similarities but also some notable differences. Overall, the methods agreed that majority of the British pig breeds are independent genetic units with little evidence of admixture. The three Bayesian genotypic clustering methods provided complementary, biologically credible clustering solutions but at different levels of resolution. BAPS detected finer genetic differentiation and in some cases, populations within breeds. Consequently, it estimated a greater number of underlying genetic populations (K, in the notation of Bayesian clustering methods). Two of the Bayesian methods (STRUCTURE and BAPS) and phylogenetic reconstruction provided similar success in assignment of individuals, supporting the use of these methods for breed assignment. Heredity (2011) 106, 261-269; doi:10.1038/hdy.2010.80; published online 16 June 2010
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • baysian domestic pig genetic structure livestock breeds microsatellites


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