The D′ coefficient is one of the most commonly used measures of the extent of gametic disequilibrium between multiallelic loci. It has been suggested that the range of the D′ measure of overall disequilibrium between pairs of multiallelic loci depends on allele frequencies, except under some very restricted conditions. Nevertheless, the problem of dependence of the range of D′ has not been characterized under a wide set of possible polymorphisms. Evaluation of the utility of D′ as a measure of the strength of overall disequilibrium between all possible pairs of alleles at two multiallelic loci requires better knowledge of its range than is currently available. In this work, the conditions of polymorphism under which the range of D′ is frequency independent are given. It is found that the range of D′ is more often independent of allelic frequencies than is commonly thought. Furthermore, the range of D′ undergoes only small fluctuations as a function of the polymorphisms at the loci. Numerical cases and microsatellite data from humans are used for illustration. These observations indicate that the D′ coefficient is a useful tool for the estimation and comparison of the extent of overall disequilibrium across pairs of multiallelic loci.
Corresponding Editor: D. Waller