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Trends Plant Sci. 2011 Sep;16(9):481-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2011.05.009. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Expression level polymorphisms: heritable traits shaping natural variation.

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Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Independent Junior Research Group, Department of Molecular Signal Processing, Weinberg 3, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.


Natural accessions of many species harbor a wealth of genetic variation visible in a large array of phenotypes. Although expression level polymorphisms (ELPs) in several genes have been shown to contribute to variation in diverse traits, their general impact on adaptive variation has likely been underestimated. At present, ELPs have predominantly been correlated to quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) that occupy central hubs in signaling networks, which pleiotropically affect numerous traits. To increase the sensitivity of detecting minor effect eQTLs or those that act in a trait-specific manner, we emphasize the need for more systematic approaches. This requires, but is not limited to, refining experimental designs such as reduction of tissue complexity and combinatorial methods including a priori defined networks.

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