Title: "Who's your great-great-great granddaddy? Using molecular markers to estimate genealogical dates"
Speaker: Dr. Bruce Walsh, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Place: Mechanical Engineering (ME) 161; February 19, 2008, Tuesday, 4:30pm


Molecular marker data is exceptional at determining if a biological sample (such as blood or an offspring!) came from a specified individual. Genealogists have become very interested in using molecular data to assess slightly more distant relationships, those within 3-20 generations. I'll review why this is done using collections of completely linked markers (such as the Y chromosome) and discuss various statistical models for estimating the time to the most recent common ancestor given two such sequences. We start with a simple maximum likelihood approach, discover its flaws, and then develop a fully Bayesian estimator that addresses these concerns.

Associated Reading:
Walsh, B. 2001. Estimating the time to the MRCA for the Y chromosome or mtDNA for a pair of individuals. Genetics 158:897-912.

A recent Forensic application:
Walsh, B., Alan J. Redd and Michael F. Hammer. Joint match probabilities for Y chromosomal and autosomal markers. Forensic Science International 174: 234-238.

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