Robust, flexible, and scalable tests for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium across diverse ancestries

NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traditional Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) tests (the χ2 test and the exact test) have long been used as a metric for evaluating genotype quality, as technical artifacts leading to incorrect genotype calls often can be identified as deviations from HWE. However, in data sets composed of individuals from diverse ancestries, HWE can be violated even without genotyping error, complicating the use of HWE testing to assess genotype data quality. In this manuscript, we present the Robust Unified Test for HWE (RUTH) to test for HWE while accounting for population structure and genotype uncertainty, and to evaluate the impact of population heterogeneity and genotype uncertainty on the standard HWE tests and alternative methods using simulated and real sequence data sets. Our results demonstrate that ignoring population structure or genotype uncertainty in HWE tests can inflate false-positive rates by many orders of magnitude. Our evaluations demonstrate different tradeoffs between false positives and statistical power across the methods, with RUTH consistently among the best across all evaluations. RUTH is implemented as a practical and scalable software tool to rapidly perform HWE tests across millions of markers and hundreds of thousands of individuals while supporting standard VCF/BCF formats. RUTH is publicly available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberiyab044
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2021


  • genotype likelihoods
  • next-generation sequencing
  • population structure
  • principal components analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Robust, flexible, and scalable tests for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium across diverse ancestries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this