Quantitative trait locus analyses and the study of evolutionary process

Molecular Ecology
D EricksonDonald Price

Abstract

The past decade has seen a proliferation of studies that employ quantitative trait locus (QTL) approaches to diagnose the genetic basis of trait evolution. Advances in molecular techniques and analytical methods have suggested that an exact genetic description of the number and distribution of genes affecting a trait can be obtained. Although this possibility has met with some success in model systems such as Drosophila and Arabidopsis, the pursuit of an exact description of QTL effects, i.e. individual gene effect, in most cases has proven problematic. We discuss why QTL methods will have difficulty in identifying individual genes contributing to trait variation, and distinguish between the identification of QTL (or marker intervals) and the identification of individual genes or nucleotide differences within genes (QTN). This review focuses on what ecologists and evolutionary biologists working with natural populations can realistically expect to learn from QTL studies. We highlight representative issues in ecology and evolutionary biology and discuss the range of questions that can be addressed satisfactorily using QTL approaches. We specifically address developing approaches to QTL analysis in outbred populations, and discus...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Biological Adaptation
Deviation, Epistatic
Biological Evolution
Genetic Markers
Genetics, Population
Gene Expression
Quantitative Trait Loci

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