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Transmission distortion refers to deviation from the normal 50:50 transmission of alleles from parents to offspring. Identification of genomic regions which undergo distortion is necessary for the correct interpretation of linkage and association studies, since tests of linkage using affected relative pairs and family based tests of association will yield spurious results in the presence of transmission distortion. With the increasing availability of genome-wide high density SNP data (e.g. from the International HapMap project), identification of these loci is now a real possibility. Here we present an analytical formula which demonstrates that the power to detect transmission distortion is a simple function of the number of heterozygous parents in the sample and the level of distortion at the locus. Our results indicate that whilst it will be possible to identify loci undergoing major levels of distortion using tens or hundreds of trios, large sample sizes in the order of tens of thousands of trios will be necessary to detect minor levels of distortion with appreciable power. The corollary is that genome-wide searches are unlikely to identify loci where the level of distortion is small, although they may serve to identify interesting regions worthy of follow up.

Original publication




Journal article


Behav Genet

Publication Date





947 - 950


Adult, Child, Female, Humans, Linkage Disequilibrium, Male, Models, Genetic, Parent-Child Relations, Reproducibility of Results, Twins