Program to simulate admixture between multiple populations
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Admixture simulator

Program to simulate admixture between multiple populations using arbitrary proportions of ancestry from any population in each generation. The model uses a recombination map and discrete generations to model the location of switches between haplotypes.


./ [in.dat] [in.snp] [out_prefix] [POPULATION FILES]

An example using data for 80 SNPs:

./ example/AA.dat example/yri.snp AA -CEU example/ceu.phgeno -YRI example/yri.phgeno

The above call will create files called AA.phgeno and AA.bp in the current directory. This call requires that the C++ program 'mixer' is compiled. See "Compiling" below.

Information on each of the command line arguments as well as output files resulting from simulation is given below.

Two modes of simulation

At every recombination breakpoint---including recombinations between haplotypes from the same population---the script ./ randomly selects a different haplotype than the one being copied from to start copying from. To simulate N haplotypes, at most N+1 haplotypes from each source population will be needed. However, because ./ is randomized, some runs will succeed in simulating N haplotypes even when fewer than N+1 haplotypes are available for each population.

An alternative script, ./, requires 2N haplotypes from each population in order to simulate N admixed haplotypes. This script assigns 2 haplotypes from each population to be used for simulating each haplotype. When a recombination occurs between haplotypes in the same population, copying switches from one of these two haplotypes to the other.

Simulating only breakpoints

If haplotypes for the simulated data are not needed, the mixer program can be used to simulate only breakpoints according to a specified genetic map and marker set.


./mixer [in.dat] [in.snp] [out.bp]

See below for information on the format of the breakpoints file.


To compile the 'mixer' C++ program, most Linux/Unix-based users should simply be able to type


Other setups may require editing of the Makefile or alternate means of compiling.

Dat file

The dat file describes the admixture process to be simulated. Example dat files are available in example/aa.dat and example/continuous.dat. The first line of the file contains K+2 columns, where K is the number of source populations. The first field on line one specifies the number of haplotypes to be simulated. The second field is a label for the admixed population that is produced during the run. (This population can contribute have non-zero ancestry contribution after the first generation in which admixture occurs; i.e., beginning on the second line of the dat file this column can be non-zero). Columns 3 through K+2 specifies labels for the source populations. These same labels, which are case-sensitive, should be used in the option names given to the ./simu-mix*.pl script.

The second and all subsequent lines have the format:

Generation#  p_0   p_1  ...  p_K

Here, p_i is the proportion of ancestry for the corresponding population (beginning with the admixed population at index 0). The sum of all p_i values on each line must be 1.0.

The first such line describes the first admixture event, where p_0 = 0 is required. The admixture event occurs at generation 1 and is a pulse admixture event. After the pulse admixture event, the population mixes with itself up to the specified generation number. The next line in the file is then processed, taking the number of generations from the previous line as the starting point for further admixture events (i.e., each line must have a generation number greater than the generation number on the previous line).

The following from example/AA.dat:

40   Admixed   CEU    YRI
6    0         0.2    0.8

is equivalent to:

40   Admixed   CEU    YRI
1    0         0.2    0.8
2    1         0      0
3    1         0      0
4    1         0      0
5    1         0      0
6    1         0      0

Both specify a pulse admixture event between CEU and YRI (20% and 80% ancestry from these populations, respectively) that occurred 6 generations ago with no further ancestry from these populations after that event, and both will generate 40 admixed haplotypes.

The file example/continuous.dat will simulate 40 haplotypes in which admixture first occurred between the CEU and YRI population, with 5% and 95% ancestry respectively. In generation 2 the admixed individuals contribute 20% ancestry, CEU contributes 5% ancestry, and YRI contributes 75% ancestry. These same proportions of ancestry occur in generations 3 through 6. Note that the final population uses only 20% ancestry from the admixture that occurred in prior generations and has at least 75% YRI ancestry. Note also that continuous mixture such as that from this example must have each line specified since, if the number of generations specified on a line is more than 1 greater than the previous line, all generations after the first are modeled as mixture of the population with itself (as in the more lengthy example file given above compared to example/aa.dat).

Finally, note that a single generation of mixture will not result in distinct local ancestry tracts on a single haplotype. Recombination in unadmixed individuals produces chromosomes with a single ancestry composition (although recombinations from the population to itself will be represented).

SNP file

Eigenstrat format SNP file that specifies the genetic map to be used for sampling recombination events. The script (available in the HAPI-PUR github repository) can be used to add a genetic map to a correctly formatted SNP file.

Output haplotype file (out_prefix.phgeno)

Simulated haplotypes file in Eigenstrat format. The program will overwrite any existing file with the name specified on the command line.


This is a list of arguments, one for each source population specified in the dat file. The format is -POP_LABEL [pop.phgeno]. The option name (POP_LABEL) must be identical to the one given in the dat file, and it is case sensitive.

Output breakpoints file (out_prefix.bp)

Each run of the 'mixer' program (invoked by the simu-mix*.pl scripts) generates a breakpoint file. This file contains information on ancestry and breakpoint locations for each haplotype. The first line contains the population labels (from the dat file) that were used for admixing. The remainder of the file contains one line per haplotype with ancestry and breakpoints specified as [pop_index]:[marker_index]. Here [pop_index] is a 0 indexed population number with population 0 being the first population listed on line 1 population 1 the second population, etc. (Note that the column for the proportions of admixed individuals in the dat file does not count as a population.) The [marker_index] is 0 based and is inclusive.

Example bp line:

0:20 1:30

The above haplotype has ancestry from population 0 at markers 0 through 20, inclusive (i.e., 21 markers) and ancestry from population 1 at markers 21 through 30 (10 markers).

Per-site ancestry values

The script will produce a file that lists the true ancestry for each position of the simulated haplotype. It is a simple decoding of the bp file, which contains integer values that correspond to a given population and the positions they span. Rather than ranges of sites for a given population, this script produces lines with the ancestry for every site explicitly listed. Each line corresponds to a haplotype, and on this line, character n (counting characters from 1 for the first character on the line) corresponds to SNP n (counting from 1 for the first line in the snp file). Thus each line contains exactly M characters, where M is the number of markers in the input snp file.

The script takes a bp file as an argument and outputs the per-site ancestry data to STDOUT. Thus, for example:

./ AA.bp > AA.hanc

Writes the per-site ancestry of each haplotype specified in AA.bp to AA.hanc.