ABCday: Approximate Bayesian Computation in one day

* exact date in November TBC. Registrations will open in Sept/Oct.

The technological revolution that the discipline of genetics has been going through for the past 10 years now allows to obtain information on the genome on a large scale. A direct application of these developments is the possibility of studying the evolution of the diversity of life for organisms other than historical models (mouse, Drosophila, nematode, yeast, human).

This revolution comes at a time when evolutionary biology has also accumulated a wealth of theoretical expectations to address questions related (1) to diversity within species (why are some species more polymorphic than others? what is the role of demography? the role of life history traits?); or (2) related to the evolution of reproductive barriers between species (are two given species genetically connected? partially connected? Or completely isolated?).

The objective of this one-day workshop is to teach to participants how from molecular data can be compared across alternative scenarios of evolution in biology using:

  1. A review of the theory linking molecular data and inferential statistics. What are the signatures that demographic events, i.e. population decline/expansion, genetic exchanges by migration, let in current genomes?
  2. A review of existing methods to study the demographic history of species from sequencing data. The focus will be on their methodological differences.
  3. Practical work to learn how to manipulate recent tools to study demographic history from high throughput data, taking into account the effects of linked selection. The focus will be on issues related to the theme of speciation to test whether two different lineages are genetically connected by gene flow and to detect which regions of their genome are linked to species barriers.

The practical component of the workshop will provide an opportunity to show how, in a single day, it is possible to carry out complete analyses from sequencing data, leading to probabilities of the scenarios studied. Importantly, it will be taught how to procede to a statistical evaluation of the power of the analysis. While the current methods will be reviewed, the participants will mainly work with a powerful and robust method: ABC for Approximate Bayesian Computation. The practical work can be carried out directly on the data sets of the participants that address the questions mentioned above, or on a large whole genome sequencing data set already available for the Latin American butterfly Heliconius.

Target audience

The ABCday workshop will be of primary interest to students and researchers with questions relating to statistical inferences of historical events from genomic data. Participants will need familiarity with the command line interface and to bring their own laptops with software pre-installed.

Draft schedule


Seminar: molecular signatures let by demographic histories in genomes


Morning tea break


Seminar: computational methods for demographic inferences


Seminar: general introduction to ABC


Lunch break


Practical work about ABC: using example data set and/or case study brought by participants


Workshop end