Population Pedigree Inference from Genomic Data

Due to methodological advances and the phenomenal increase in genetic data from different species, phylogenetic analysis (the inference of evolutionary relationships between species) has risen to prominence and been put on much firmer statistical ground (Felsenstein, 2004; Semple and Steel, 2003). Similarly, considerable progress has been made in characterizing the genealogical relationships between segments of chromosome sampled from individuals from the same species, based on the pattern of mutational and recombinational diversity present in these segments. While such studies are important in their own right, the growing deluge of genome-wide SNP genotype data (and in the near future sequence data) heralds the possibility of inferring the entire pedigree between a set of individuals. For any given contemporary individual, the ancestor(s) of a particular chromosomal segment represent only a fraction of all the ancestors from whom that individual inherited all his or her genetic material.