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Annu Rev Genet. 2001;35:303-39.

The genetic architecture of quantitative traits.

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1
Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, Box 7614, North Carolina 27695, USA. trudy_mackay@ncsu.edu

Abstract

Phenotypic variation for quantitative traits results from the segregation of alleles at multiple quantitative trait loci (QTL) with effects that are sensitive to the genetic, sexual, and external environments. Major challenges for biology in the post-genome era are to map the molecular polymorphisms responsible for variation in medically, agriculturally, and evolutionarily important complex traits; and to determine their gene frequencies and their homozygous, heterozygous, epistatic, and pleiotropic effects in multiple environments. The ease with which QTL can be mapped to genomic intervals bounded by molecular markers belies the difficulty in matching the QTL to a genetic locus. The latter requires high-resolution recombination or linkage disequilibrium mapping to nominate putative candidate genes, followed by genetic and/or functional complementation and gene expression analyses. Complete genome sequences and improved technologies for polymorphism detection will greatly advance the genetic dissection of quantitative traits in model organisms, which will open avenues for exploration of homologous QTL in related taxa.

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