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Open Access Research article

Comparison of the accuracy of methods of computational haplotype inference using a large empirical dataset

Ronald M Adkins

Author Affiliations

Children's Foundation Research Center and Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics, University of Tennessee, Memphis, TN, USA

BMC Genetics 2004, 5:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-22

Published: 3 August 2004



Analyses of genetic data at the level of haplotypes provide increased accuracy and power to infer genotype-phenotype correlations and evolutionary history of a locus. However, empirical determination of haplotypes is expensive and laborious. Therefore, several methods of inferring haplotypes from unphased genotypic data have been proposed, but it is unclear how accurate each of the methods is or which methods are superior. The accuracy of some of the leading methods of computational haplotype inference (PL-EM, Phase, SNPHAP, Haplotyper) are compared using a large set of 308 empirically determined haplotypes based on 15 SNPs, among which 36 haplotypes were observed to occur. This study presents several advantages over many previous comparisons of haplotype inference methods: a large number of subjects are included, the number of known haplotypes is much smaller than the number of chromosomes surveyed, a range in values of linkage disequilibrium, presence of rare SNP alleles, and considerable dispersion in the frequencies of haplotypes.


In contrast to some previous comparisons of haplotype inference methods, there was very little difference in the accuracy of the various methods in terms of either assignment of haplotypes to individuals or estimation of haplotype frequencies. Although none of the methods inferred all of the known haplotypes, the assignment of haplotypes to subjects was about 90% correct for individuals heterozygous for up to three SNPs and was about 80% correct for up to five heterozygous sites. All of the methods identified every haplotype with a frequency above 1%, and none assigned a frequency above 1% to an incorrect haplotype.


All of the methods of haplotype inference have high accuracy and one can have confidence in inferences made by any one of the methods. The ability to identify even rare (≥ 1%) haplotypes is reassuring for efforts to identify haplotypes that contribute to disease in a significant proportion of a population. Assignment of haplotypes is relatively accurate among subjects heterozygous for up to 5 sites, and this might be the largest number of SNPs for which one should define haplotype blocks or have confidence in haplotype assignments.