Probabilistic models of genetic variation in structured populations applied to global human studies

Wei Hao, Minsun Song, John D. Storey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Motivation: Modern population genetics studies typically involve genome-wide genotyping of individuals from a diverse network of ancestries. An important problem is how to formulate and estimate probabilistic models of observed genotypes that account for complex population structure. The most prominent work on this problem has focused on estimating a model of admixture proportions of ancestral populations for each individual. Here, we instead focus on modeling variation of the genotypes without requiring a higher-level admixture interpretation. Results: We formulate two general probabilistic models, and we propose computationally efficient algorithms to estimate them. First, we show how principal component analysis can be utilized to estimate a general model that includes the well-known Pritchard-Stephens-Donnelly admixture model as a special case. Noting some drawbacks of this approach, we introduce a new 'logistic factor analysis' framework that seeks to directly model the logit transformation of probabilities underlying observed genotypes in terms of latent variables that capture population structure. We demonstrate these advances on data from the Human Genome Diversity Panel and 1000 Genomes Project, where we are able to identify SNPs that are highly differentiated with respect to structure while making minimal modeling assumptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-721
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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