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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Inference on population history and model checking using DNA sequence and microsatellite data with the software DIYABC (v1.0)

Jean-Marie Cornuet1, Virgine Ravigné2 and Arnaud Estoup1*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR CBGP (INRA/IRD/Cirad/Montpellier SupAgro), Campus international de Baillarguet, CS 30016, F-34988 Montferrier-sur-Lez cedex, France

2 CIRAD, Unité Mixte de Recherche-Biologie et Génétique des Interaction Plante-Parasite, F-34398 Montpellier, France

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BMC Bioinformatics 2010, 11:401  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-401

Published: 28 July 2010



Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) is a recent flexible class of Monte-Carlo algorithms increasingly used to make model-based inference on complex evolutionary scenarios that have acted on natural populations. The software DIYABC offers a user-friendly interface allowing non-expert users to consider population histories involving any combination of population divergences, admixtures and population size changes. We here describe and illustrate new developments of this software that mainly include (i) inference from DNA sequence data in addition or separately to microsatellite data, (ii) the possibility to analyze five categories of loci considering balanced or non balanced sex ratios: autosomal diploid, autosomal haploid, X-linked, Y-linked and mitochondrial, and (iii) the possibility to perform model checking computation to assess the "goodness-of-fit" of a model, a feature of ABC analysis that has been so far neglected.


We used controlled simulated data sets generated under evolutionary scenarios involving various divergence and admixture events to evaluate the effect of mixing autosomal microsatellite, mtDNA and/or nuclear autosomal DNA sequence data on inferences. This evaluation included the comparison of competing scenarios and the quantification of their relative support, and the estimation of parameter posterior distributions under a given scenario. We also considered a set of scenarios often compared when making ABC inferences on the routes of introduction of invasive species to illustrate the interest of the new model checking option of DIYABC to assess model misfit.


Our new developments of the integrated software DIYABC should be particularly useful to make inference on complex evolutionary scenarios involving both recent and ancient historical events and using various types of molecular markers in diploid or haploid organisms. They offer a handy way for non-expert users to achieve model checking computation within an ABC framework, hence filling up a gap of ABC analysis. The software DIYABC V1.0 is freely available at webcite.