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Genetics. 2003 Oct;165(2):867-83.

Bayesian model choice and search strategies for mapping interacting quantitative trait Loci.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


Most complex traits of animals, plants, and humans are influenced by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Interactions among multiple genes play fundamental roles in the genetic control and evolution of complex traits. Statistical modeling of interaction effects in quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis must accommodate a very large number of potential genetic effects, which presents a major challenge to determining the genetic model with respect to the number of QTL, their positions, and their genetic effects. In this study, we use the methodology of Bayesian model and variable selection to develop strategies for identifying multiple QTL with complex epistatic patterns in experimental designs with two segregating genotypes. Specifically, we develop a reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm to determine the number of QTL and to select main and epistatic effects. With the proposed method, we can jointly infer the genetic model of a complex trait and the associated genetic parameters, including the number, positions, and main and epistatic effects of the identified QTL. Our method can map a large number of QTL with any combination of main and epistatic effects. Utility and flexibility of the method are demonstrated using both simulated data and a real data set. Sensitivity of posterior inference to prior specifications of the number and genetic effects of QTL is investigated.

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