Tree-guided Bayesian inference of population structures

Yu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Motivation: Inferring population structures using genetic data sampled from a group of individuals is a challenging task. Many methods either consider a fixed population number or ignore the correlation between populations. As a result, they can lose sensitivity and specificity in detecting subtle stratifications. In addition, when a large number of genetic markers are used, many existing algorithms perform rather inefficiently. Result: We propose a new Bayesian method to infer population structures using multiple unlinked single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Our approach explicitly considers the population correlation through a tree hierarchy, and treat the population number as a random variable. Using both simulated and real datasets of worldwide samples, we demonstrate that an incorporated tree can consistently improve the power in detecting subtle population stratifications. A tree-based model often involves a large number of unknown parameters, and the corresponding estimation procedure can be highly inefficient. We further implement a partition method to analytically integrate out all nuisance parameters in the tree. As a result, our method can analyze large SNP datasets with significantly improved convergence rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-971
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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