A practical guide to methods of parentage analysis


Adam G. Jones, Fax: (979) 845 2891; E-mail: agjones@tamu.edu


The use of molecular techniques for parentage analysis has been a booming science for over a decade. The most important technological breakthrough was the introduction of microsatellite markers to molecular ecology, an advance that was accompanied by a proliferation and refinement of statistical techniques for the analysis of parentage data. Over the last several years, we have seen steady progress in a number of areas related to parentage analysis, and the prospects for successful studies continue to improve. Here, we provide an updated guide for scientists interested in embarking on parentage analysis in natural or artificial populations of organisms, with a particular focus on computer software packages that implement various methods of analysis. Our survey of the literature shows that there are a few established methods that perform extremely well in the analysis of most types of parentage studies. However, particular experimental designs or study systems can benefit from some of the less well-known computer packages available. Overall, we find that parentage analysis is feasible and satisfying in most systems, and we try to provide a simple roadmap to help other scientists navigate the confusing topography of statistical techniques.