Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science

Volume 2, Issue 1, Octubre/Enero 1986/1987

Alicia Sánchez-Mazas, Laurent Excoffier, André Langaney
Pages 143-154

Measure and Representation of the Genetic Similarity between Populations by the Percentage of Isoactive Genes

A similarity index allowing comparisons of human populations has been defined as the common “Percentage of Isoactive Genes” or PIG, which can be calculated from any gene frequency distribution characterizing two populations. The complement to one of this value has been proved to be a distance, a measure which can be used in most techniques of cluster analysis as well as in usual representations of multivariated data (dendrograms, etc...). Furthermore, the formula can be generalized to a set of populations. From a biological point of vue, PIG values are particularly meaningful, whereas other previously defined indices which tend to measure similarity or difference between populations neither have such an advantage, nor can they be expressed by a single and clear number like a percentage. Moreover, comparisons using PIG indices depend at first on the fluctuations of the most frequent genes of a distribution; on the other hand, different measures principally reflect the variations of low frequency genes, which unfortunately are nearly always poorly estimated, due to weak samples of populations. Interestingly, PIG values can be applied to any frequency distribution of any kind of objects. They can also extend to a whole set of distributions by using a mean value. When applying these measures to a series of polymorphic genetical systems such as ABO, Rhesus, MNSs, Gm and HLA, one can account for the variability or the homogeneity particular to the different human groups, with simple and objective criteria.