Similarity coefficients for molecular markers in studies of genetic relationships between individuals for haploid, diploid, and polyploid species


Dr E. Kosman, Fax: 972-3-6407857, E-mail:


Determining true genetic dissimilarity between individuals is an important and decisive point for clustering and analysing diversity within and among populations, because different dissimilarity indices may yield conflicting outcomes. We show that there are no acceptable universal approaches to assessing the dissimilarity between individuals with molecular markers. Different measures are relevant to dominant and codominant DNA markers depending on the ploidy of organisms. The Dice coefficient is the suitable measure for haploids with codominant markers and it can be applied directly to (0,1)-vectors representing banding profiles of individuals. None of the common measures, Dice, Jaccard, simple mismatch coefficient (or the squared Euclidean distance), is appropriate for diploids with codominant markers. By transforming multiallelic banding patterns at each locus into the corresponding homozygous or heterozygous states, a new measure of dissimilarity within locus was developed and expanded to assess dissimilarity between multilocus states of two individuals by averaging across all codominant loci tested. There is no rigorous well-founded solution in the case of dominant markers. The simple mismatch coefficient is the most suitable measure of dissimilarity between banding patterns of closely related haploid forms. For distantly related haploid individuals, the Jaccard dissimilarity is recommended. In general, no suitable method for measuring genetic dissimilarity between diploids with dominant markers can be proposed. Banding patterns of diploids with dominant markers and polyploids with codominant markers represent individuals’ phenotypes rather than genotypes. All dissimilarity measures proposed and developed herein are metrics.