Open Access Methodology article

Assignment of chromosomal locations for unassigned SNPs/scaffolds based on pair-wise linkage disequilibrium estimates

Mehar S Khatkar1*, Matthew Hobbs1, Markus Neuditschko2, Johann Sölkner2, Frank W Nicholas1 and Herman W Raadsma1

Author Affiliations

1 Reprogen - Animal Bioscience, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camden NSW 2570, Australia

2 University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, A-1180, Austria

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BMC Bioinformatics 2010, 11:171  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-171

Published: 7 April 2010



Recent developments of high-density SNP chips across a number of species require accurate genetic maps. Despite rapid advances in genome sequence assembly and availability of a number of tools for creating genetic maps, the exact genome location for a number of SNPs from these SNP chips still remains unknown. We have developed a locus ordering procedure based on linkage disequilibrium (LODE) which provides estimation of the chromosomal positions of unaligned SNPs and scaffolds. It also provides an alternative means for verification of genetic maps. We exemplified LODE in cattle.


The utility of the LODE procedure was demonstrated using data from 1,943 bulls genotyped for 73,569 SNPs across three different SNP chips. First, the utility of the procedure was tested by analysing the masked positions of 1,500 randomly-chosen SNPs with known locations (50 from each chromosome), representing three classes of minor allele frequencies (MAF), namely >0.05, 0.01<MAF ≤ 0.05 and 0.001<MAF ≤ 0.01. The efficiency (percentage of masked SNPs that could be assigned a location) was 96.7%, 30.6% and 2.0%; with an accuracy (the percentage of SNPs assigned correctly) of 99.9%, 98.9% and 33.3% in the three classes of MAF, respectively. The average precision for placement of the SNPs was 914, 3,137 and 6,853 kb, respectively. Secondly, 4,688 of 5,314 SNPs unpositioned in the Btau4.0 assembly were positioned using the LODE procedure. Based on these results, the positions of 485 unordered scaffolds were determined. The procedure was also used to validate the genome positions of 53,068 SNPs placed on Btau4.0 bovine assembly, resulting in identification of problem areas in the assembly. Finally, the accuracy of the LODE procedure was independently validated by comparative mapping on the hg18 human assembly.


The LODE procedure described in this study is an efficient and accurate method for positioning SNPs (MAF>0.05), for validating and checking the quality of a genome assembly, and offers a means for positioning of unordered scaffolds containing SNPs. The LODE procedure will be helpful in refining genome sequence assemblies, especially those being created from next-generation sequencing where high-throughput SNP discovery and genotyping platforms are integrated components of genome analysis.