G3 (Bethesda) 12 (6) - [2022-05-30; online 2022-04-29]
With capabilities of sequencing ancient DNA to high coverage often limited by sample quality or cost, imputation of missing genotypes presents a possibility to increase the power of inference as well as cost-effectiveness for the analysis of ancient data. However, the high degree of uncertainty often associated with ancient DNA poses several methodological challenges, and performance of imputation methods in this context has not been fully explored. To gain further insights, we performed a systematic evaluation of imputation of ancient data using Beagle v4.0 and reference data from phase 3 of the 1000 Genomes project, investigating the effects of coverage, phased reference, and study sample size. Making use of five ancient individuals with high-coverage data available, we evaluated imputed data for accuracy, reference bias, and genetic affinities as captured by principal component analysis. We obtained genotype concordance levels of over 99% for data with 1× coverage, and similar levels of accuracy and reference bias at levels as low as 0.75×. Our findings suggest that using imputed data can be a realistic option for various population genetic analyses even for data in coverage ranges below 1×. We also show that a large and varied phased reference panel as well as the inclusion of low- to moderate-coverage ancient individuals in the study sample can increase imputation performance, particularly for rare alleles. In-depth analysis of imputed data with respect to genetic variants and allele frequencies gave further insight into the nature of errors arising during imputation, and can provide practical guidelines for postprocessing and validation prior to downstream analysis.