Likelihood-Free Inference of Population Structure and Local Adaptation in a Bayesian Hierarchical Model

E Bazin, KJ Dawson, MA Beaumont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


We address the problem of finding evidence of natural selection from genetic data, accounting for the confounding effects of demographic history. In the absence of natural selection, gene genealogies should all be sampled from the same underlying distribution, often approximated by a coalescent model. Selection at a particular locus will lead to a modified genealogy, and this motivates a number of recent approaches for detecting the effects of natural selection in the genome as “outliers” under some models. The demographic history of a population affects the sampling distribution of genealogies, and therefore the observed genotypes and the classification of outliers. Since we cannot see genealogies directly, we have to infer them from the observed data under some model of mutation and demography. Thus the accuracy of an outlier-based approach depends to a greater or a lesser extent on the uncertainty about the demographic and mutational model. A natural modeling framework for this type of problem is provided by Bayesian hierarchical models, in which parameters, such as mutation rates and selection coefficients, are allowed to vary across loci. It has proved quite difficult computationally to implement fully probabilistic genealogical models with complex demographies, and this has motivated the development of approximations such as approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). In ABC the data are compressed into summary statistics, and computation of the likelihood function is replaced by simulation of data under the model. In a hierarchical setting one may be interested both in hyperparameters and parameters, and there may be very many of the latter—for example, in a genetic model, these may be parameters describing each of many loci or populations. This poses a problem for ABC in that one then requires summary statistics for each locus, which, if used naively, leads to a consequent difficulty in conditional density estimation. We develop a general method for applying ABC to Bayesian hierarchical models, and we apply it to detect microsatellite loci influenced by local selection. We demonstrate using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis that this approach has comparable performance to a full-likelihood method and outperforms it when mutation rates are variable across loci.
Translated title of the contributionLikelihood-Free Inference of Population Structure and Local Adaptation in a Bayesian Hierarchical Model
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587 - 602
Number of pages16
Volume185, issue 2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher: The Genetics Society of America


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