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PLoS Genet. 2013 Feb;9(2):e1003295. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003295. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

An evolutionary perspective on epistasis and the missing heritability.

Author information

1
The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The relative importance between additive and non-additive genetic variance has been widely argued in quantitative genetics. By approaching this question from an evolutionary perspective we show that, while additive variance can be maintained under selection at a low level for some patterns of epistasis, the majority of the genetic variance that will persist is actually non-additive. We propose that one reason that the problem of the "missing heritability" arises is because the additive genetic variation that is estimated to be contributing to the variance of a trait will most likely be an artefact of the non-additive variance that can be maintained over evolutionary time. In addition, it can be shown that even a small reduction in linkage disequilibrium between causal variants and observed SNPs rapidly erodes estimates of epistatic variance, leading to an inflation in the perceived importance of additive effects. We demonstrate that the perception of independent additive effects comprising the majority of the genetic architecture of complex traits is biased upwards and that the search for causal variants in complex traits under selection is potentially underpowered by parameterising for additive effects alone. Given dense SNP panels the detection of causal variants through genome-wide association studies may be improved by searching for epistatic effects explicitly.

PMID:
23509438
PMCID:
PMC3585114
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1003295
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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