Parentage assignment with genotyping-by-sequencing data

Andrew Whalen, Gregor Gorjanc, John Hickey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we evaluate using genotype-by-sequencing (GBS) data to perform parentage assignment in lieu of traditional array data. The use of GBS data raises two issues: First, for low-coverage (e.g., <2x) GBS data, it may not be possible to call the genotype at many loci, a critical first step for detecting opposing homozygous markers. Second, the amount of sequencing coverage may vary across individuals, making it challenging to directly compare the likelihood scores between putative parents. To address these issues we extend the probabilistic framework of Huisman (2017) and evaluate putative parents by comparing their (potentially noisy) genotypes to a series of proposal distributions. These distributions describe the expected genotype probabilities for the relatives of an individual. We assign putative parents as a parent if they are classified as a parent (as opposed to e.g., an unrelated individual), and if the assignment score passes a threshold. We evaluated this method on simulated data and found that (1) high-coverage (>2x) GBS data performs similarly to array data and requires only a small number of markers to correctly assign parents and (2) low-coverage GBS data (as low as 0.1x) can also be used, provided that it is obtained across a large number of markers. When analysing the low-coverage GBS data, we also found a high number of false positives if the true parent is not contained within the list of candidate parents, but that this false positive rate can be greatly reduced by hand tuning the assignment threshold. We provide this parentage assignment method as a standalone program called AlphaAssign.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Early online date13 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2018


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