Research areas as disparate as population genetics, systems biology, mathematical modelling of development and transcription profiling rely on quantitative descriptions, and statistical analysis — once a concept foreign to mainstream genetics — is pervading every aspect of the field.

The aim of the four reviews in this Focus issue on Statistical Analysis is to familiarize readers with the current and debated issues in this exciting area of genetics. The dialogue on the best solutions is ongoing, and all authors present their opinion on future trends. The articles are freely available for one month.

In conjunction with the Focus on Statistical Analysis, Nature Reviews Genetics presents an audio supplement in which experts discuss how advances in statistics will aid genetic analyses.

From the Editors

Statistical Analysis


Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 737


Audio Supplement

Genetics by numbers

Listen to experts discuss recent advances in statistical genetic analysis.



A tutorial on statistical methods for population association studies

David J. Balding


Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 781-791

Identifying polymorphisms that are overrepresented in disease cases versus controls would seem to be a straightforward process, but genetic association studies are notoriously riddled with complex analysis problems. This article outlines these statistical issues and provides some guidance to overcoming them.

Modern computational approaches for analysing molecular genetic variation data

Paul Marjoram & Simon Tavaré


Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 759-770

The vast increase in the amount of molecular genetic data that are being generated, and the scale of their complexity, demand ever more sophisticated statistical analysis methods — this article surveys and compares these approaches, and the growing reliance on computational methodologies.

Computer programs for population genetics data analysis: a survival guide

Laurent Excoffier and Gerald Heckel


Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 745-758

The increase in population genetics data has led to a parallel need for sophisticated analysis programs and packages. This article is intended as a guide to many of these statistical programs, to promote their more informed use.

Genetic-relatedness analysis: modern data and new challenges

Bruce S. Weir, Amy D. Anderson and Amanda B. Hepler


Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 771-780

The concept of relatedness is central to many fields, from human linkage analysis to forensics to animal and plant breeding. This review covers the statistical framework for studying relatedness, its applications and the challenges that the field faces.


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