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Genetics. 2002 Dec;162(4):1863-73.

A genome scan for quantitative trait loci in a wild population of red deer (Cervus elaphus).

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AgResearch, Invermay Agricultural Centre, Mosgiel, New Zealand.


Recent empirical evidence indicates that although fitness and fitness components tend to have low heritability in natural populations, they may nonetheless have relatively large components of additive genetic variance. The molecular basis of additive genetic variation has been investigated in model organisms but never in the wild. In this article we describe an attempt to map quantitative trait loci (QTL) for birth weight (a trait positively associated with overall fitness) in an unmanipulated, wild population of red deer (Cervus elaphus). Two approaches were used: interval mapping by linear regression within half-sib families and a variance components analysis of a six-generation pedigree of >350 animals. Evidence for segregating QTL was found on three linkage groups, one of which was significant at the genome-wide suggestive linkage threshold. To our knowledge this is the first time that a QTL for any trait has been mapped in a wild mammal population. It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigations of the genetic architecture of fitness traits in the wild.

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