Measuring the genetic structure of the pollen pool as the probability of paternal identity

P. E. Smouse, J. J. Robledo-Arnuncio

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44 Scopus citations


Contemporary pollen flow in forest plant species is measured by the probability of paternal identity (PPI) for two randomly sampled offspring, drawn from a single female, and contrasting that with PPI for two random offspring, drawn from different females. Two different estimation strategies have emerged: (a) an indirect approach, using the 'genetic structure' of the pollen received by different mothers and (b) a direct approach, based on parentage analysis. The indirect strategy is somewhat limited by the assumptions, but is widely useful. The direct approach is most appropriate where a large majority of the true fathers can be identified exactly, which is sometimes possible with high-resolution SSR markers. Using the parentage approach, we develop estimates of PPI, showing that the obvious estimates are severely biased, and providing an unbiased alternative. We then illustrate the methods with SSR data from a 36-tree isolated population of Pinus sylvestris from the Meseta region of Spain, for which categorical paternity assignment was available for over 95% of offspring. For all the females combined, we estimate that PPI = 0.0425, indicating uneven male reproductive contributions. Different (but overlapping) arrays of males pollinate different females, and for the average female, PPI = 0.317, indicating substantial 'pollen structure' for the population. We also relate the direct measures of PPI to those available from indirect approaches, and show that they are Generally comparable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-649
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


  • Correlated paternity
  • Genetic diversity
  • Paternal analysis
  • Paternal identity
  • Pollen flow
  • Pollen structure


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