François Rousset talks
with ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions
about this month's Fast Breaking Paper in the field of
Article Title: GENEPOP ' 007: a complete
re-implementation of the GENEPOP software for Windows and
Journal: MOL ECOL RESOUR
Year: JAN 2008
* Univ Montpellier 2, CNRS, UM2, Inst Sci Evolut,CC 065, PL
Eugene Batallion, F-34095 Montpellier 5, France.
* Univ Montpellier 2, CNRS, UM2, Inst Sci Evolut,CC 065,
F-34095 Montpellier 5, France.
Why do you think your paper is highly
This paper is highly cited because it describes the successor of the
software Genepop, already widely used in several branches of genetics. Part
of Genepop's success derives from its well-established methods, thoroughly
tested algorithms, and its convenient input file format which has been
endorsed by several other softwares.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
"The software is used in
conservation science and medical genetics,
and as such, it can guide the application of
policies in these different
Genepop'007 includes some relatively recent statistical developments, but
is used mostly for not-so-new methods. In particular, it implements
computer algorithms allowing testing of the independence between two
variables, each of which takes discrete values (categorical variables). The
initial target application of Genepop was the analysis of highly
polymorphic genetic markers where the number of categories for one or both
variables can be large.
Computer algorithms available 15 years ago were comparatively slow when the
number of categories was large. Despite some improvements in alternative
algorithms, the ones implemented in Genepop'007 remain competitive today.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
The paper describes software that makes it easy to perform a number of data
analyses, in particular, quantifying the extant of genetic exchanges
between different populations.
How did you become involved in this research, and were
there any problems along the way?
I became involved in this research as a collaboration with Michel Raymond,
the past co-developer of Genepop (also from the Institute of Evolutionary
Sciences in Montpellier). It fitted well with my then-growing interest in
statistical and theoretical issues related to what has become my other main
research program, the evolution of social behaviors and related ecological
Where do you see your research leading in the
Genepop is actively maintained, but most of my current research on
quantifying genetic exchanges involves a distinct class of algorithms based
on coalescent theory, i.e., on properties of genealogical trees of
ancestors of a sample. These computer-intensive algorithms are being
developed as a new software, Migraine, written in collaboration with
Raphaël Leblois (currently at the Museum of Natural History in Paris).
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
The software is used in conservation science and medical genetics, and as
such, it can guide the application of policies in these different fields.
However, I am not aware that it has been prominently involved in any social
or political debate.
Senior Research Scientist
Institute of Evolutionary Sciences
University of Montpellier