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Estimation and adjustment of microsatellite null alleles in nonequilibrium populations


C. van Oosterhout, Fax: +44 (0)1482 465458; E-mail:


Nonamplified (null) alleles are a common feature of microsatellite genotyping and can bias estimates of allele and genotype frequencies, thereby hindering population genetic analyses. The frequency of microsatellite null alleles in diploid populations can be estimated for populations that are in Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. However, many microsatellite data sets are from nonequilibrium populations, often with known inbreeding coefficients (F) or fixation indices (FIS or FST). Here, we propose a novel null allele estimator that can be used to estimate the null allele frequency and adjust visible allele frequencies in populations for which independent estimates of F, FIS or FST are available. The algorithm is currently available as an Excel macro that can be downloaded at no cost from and will be incorporated into the software micro-checker.