Methods for estimating probability of identity by descent (f) are derived for data on numbers of genotypes at single loci and at pairs of loci with many alleles at each locus. The methods are general, but are specifically applied to data on genotype frequencies in zygotes of the malaria parasite sampled from its mosquito host in order to find the extent of outcrossing in the parasite and the degree of clonality in populations. It is assumed that zygotes are the outcome either of gametes of the same clone, in which they are identical at all loci, or are products of two random, unrelated clones. From the estimate of f an effective number of clones per human host can also be derived. For Plasmodium falciparum from a Tanzanian village, estimates of f are 0·33 from data on zygote frequencies at two multiallelic loci, indicating that two-thirds of zygotes produce recombinant types.
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