Moment estimation of population diversity and genetic distance from data on recessive markers*


  • W. G. Hill,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK,
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  • B. S. Weir

    1. Program in Statistical Genetics, Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7566, USA
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  • *

    with an Appendix by J.-L. Foulley

Prof. W. G. Hill. E-mail:


A moment-based method for estimating a measure of population diversity, θ or Wright's FST, is given for dominant markers such as amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) or RAPDs in noninbred populations. Basic assumptions are that there is random mating, Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium, linkage equilibrium, no mutation from common ancestor and equally distant populations. It is based on the variances between and within populations of genotype frequencies, whereas previously moment methods for dominant markers have been indirect in that they have been based on first estimating allele frequencies and then using the variances of those frequencies. The use of genotype frequencies directly appears to be more robust. Approximate sampling errors of the estimates are given. Methods are extended to estimate genetic distances and their sampling errors. The AFLP data from samples of breeds of pig are used for illustration.