Pairwise relatedness testing in the context of inbreeding: expectation and variance of the likelihood ratio
International journal of legal medicine (Print)
In this paper we investigate various effects of inbreeding on the likelihood ratio (LR) in forensic kinship testing. The basic setup of such testing involves formulating two competing hypotheses, in the form of pedigrees, describing the relationship between the individuals. The likelihood of each hypothesis is computed given the available genetic data, and a conclusion is reached if the ratio of these exceeds some pre-determined threshold. An important aspect of this approach is that the
... is that the hypotheses are usually not exhaustive: The true relationship may differ from both of the stated pedigrees. It is well known that this may introduce bias in the test results. Previous work has established formulas for the expected value and variance of the LR, given the two competing hypotheses and the true relationship. However, the proposed method only handles cases without inbreeding. In this paper we extend these results to all possible pairwise relationships. The key ingredient is formulating the hypotheses in terms of Jacquard coefficients instead of the more restricted Cotterman coefficients. While the latter describe the relatedness between outbred individuals, the more general Jacquard coefficients allow any level of inbreeding. Our approach also enables scrutiny of another frequently overlooked source of LR bias, namely background inbreeding. This ubiquitous phenomenon is usually ignored in forensic kinship computations, due to lack of adequate methods and software. By leveraging recent work on pedigrees with inbred founders, we show how background inbreeding can be modeled as a continuous variable, providing easy-to-interpret results in specific cases. For example, we show that if true siblings are subjected to a test for parent-offspring, moderate levels of background inbreeding are expected to inflate the LR by more than 50%.