Recent advances in high-throughput genotyping and transcript profiling technologies have enabled the inexpensive production of genome-wide dense marker maps in tandem with huge amounts of expression profiles. These large-scale data encompass valuable information about the genetic architecture of important phenotypic traits. Comprehensive models that combine molecular markers and gene transcript levels are increasingly advocated as an effective approach to dissecting the genetic architecture of complex phenotypic traits. The simultaneous utilization of marker and gene expression data to explain the variation in clinical quantitative trait, known as clinical quantitative trait locus (cQTL) mapping, poses challenges that are both conceptual and computational. Nonetheless, the hierarchical Bayesian (HB) modeling approach, in combination with modern computational tools such as Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation techniques, provides much versatility for cQTL analysis. Sillanpää and Noykova (2008) developed a HB model for single-trait cQTL analysis in inbred line cross-data using molecular markers, gene expressions, and marker-gene expression pairs. However, clinical traits generally relate to one another through environmental correlations and/or pleiotropy. A multi-trait approach can improve on the power to detect genetic effects and on their estimation precision. A multi-trait model also provides a framework for examining a number of biologically interesting hypotheses. In this paper we extend the HB cQTL model for inbred line crosses proposed by Sillanpää and Noykova to a multi-trait setting. We illustrate the implementation of our new model with simulated data, and evaluate the multi-trait model performance with regard to its single-trait counterpart. The data simulation process was based on the multi-trait cQTL model, assuming three traits with uncorrelated and correlated cQTL residuals, with the simulated data under uncorrelated cQTL residuals serving as our test set for comparing the performances of the multi-trait and single-trait models. The simulated data under correlated cQTL residuals were essentially used to assess how well our new model can estimate the cQTL residual covariance structure. The model fitting to the data was carried out by MCMC simulation through OpenBUGS. The multi-trait model outperformed its single-trait counterpart in identifying cQTLs, with a consistently lower false discovery rate. Moreover, the covariance matrix of cQTL residuals was typically estimated to an appreciable degree of precision under the multi-trait cQTL model, making our new model a promising approach to addressing a wide range of issues facing the analysis of correlated clinical traits.
Bayesian multilevel modeling; genetic architecture; linked marker-expression pairs; pleiotropy
The gastrointestinal tract harbors a complex and diverse microbiota that has an important role in host metabolism. Microbial diversity is influenced by a combination of environmental and host genetic factors and is associated with several polygenic diseases. In this study we combined next-generation sequencing, genetic mapping, and a set of physiological traits of the BXD mouse population to explore genetic factors that explain differences in gut microbiota and its impact on metabolic traits. Molecular profiling of the gut microbiota revealed important quantitative differences in microbial composition among BXD strains. These differences in gut microbial composition are influenced by host-genetics, which is complex and involves many loci. Linkage analysis defined Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) restricted to a particular taxon, branch or that influenced the variation of taxa across phyla. Gene expression within the gastrointestinal tract and sequence analysis of the parental genomes in the QTL regions uncovered candidate genes with potential to alter gut immunological profiles and impact the balance between gut microbial communities. A QTL region on Chr 4 that overlaps several interferon genes modulates the population of Bacteroides, and potentially Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes–the predominant BXD gut phyla. Irak4, a signaling molecule in the Toll-like receptor pathways is a candidate for the QTL on Chr15 that modulates Rikenellaceae, whereas Tgfb3, a cytokine modulating the barrier function of the intestine and tolerance to commensal bacteria, overlaps a QTL on Chr 12 that influence Prevotellaceae. Relationships between gut microflora, morphological and metabolic traits were uncovered, some potentially a result of common genetic sources of variation.
Natural variation provides a valuable resource to study the genetic regulation of quantitative traits. In quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses this variation, captured in segregating mapping populations, is used to identify the genomic regions affecting these traits. The identification of the causal genes underlying QTLs is a major challenge for which the detection of gene expression differences is of major importance. By combining genetics with large scale expression profiling (i.e. genetical genomics), resulting in expression QTLs (eQTLs), great progress can be made in connecting phenotypic variation to genotypic diversity. In this review we discuss examples from human, mouse, Drosophila, yeast and plant research to illustrate the advances in genetical genomics, with a focus on understanding the regulatory mechanisms underlying natural variation. With their tolerance to inbreeding, short generation time and ease to generate large families, plants are ideal subjects to test new concepts in genetics. The comprehensive resources which are available for Arabidopsis make it a favorite model plant but genetical genomics also found its way to important crop species like rice, barley and wheat. We discuss eQTL profiling with respect to cis and trans regulation and show how combined studies with other ‘omics’ technologies, such as metabolomics and proteomics may further augment current information on transcriptional, translational and metabolomic signaling pathways and enable reconstruction of detailed regulatory networks. The fast developments in the ‘omics’ area will offer great potential for genetical genomics to elucidate the genotype-phenotype relationships for both fundamental and applied research.
Genetical genomics; e-QTL; network reconstruction; Arabidopsis thaliana; crop genetics.
The genetic architecture of multifactorial traits such as obesity has been poorly understood. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis is widely used to localize loci affecting multifactorial traits on chromosomal regions. However, large confidence intervals and small phenotypic effects of identified QTLs and closely linked loci are impeding the identification of causative genes that underlie the QTLs. Here we developed five subcongenic mouse strains with overlapping and non-overlapping wild-derived genomic regions from an F2 intercross of a previously developed congenic strain, B6.Cg-Pbwg1, and its genetic background strain, C57BL/6J (B6). The subcongenic strains developed were phenotyped on low-fat standard chow and a high-fat diet to fine-map a previously identified obesity QTL. Microarray analysis was performed with Affymetrix GeneChips to search for candidate genes of the QTL.
The obesity QTL was physically mapped to an 8.8-Mb region of mouse chromosome 2. The wild-derived allele significantly decreased white fat pad weight, body weight and serum levels of glucose and triglyceride. It was also resistant to the high-fat diet. Among 29 genes residing within the 8.8-Mb region, Gpd2, Upp2, Acvr1c, March7 and Rbms1 showed great differential expression in livers and/or gonadal fat pads between B6.Cg-Pbwg1 and B6 mice.
The wild-derived QTL allele prevented obesity in both mice fed a low-fat standard diet and mice fed a high-fat diet. This finding will pave the way for identification of causative genes for obesity. A further understanding of this unique QTL effect at genetic and molecular levels may lead to the discovery of new biological and pathologic pathways associated with obesity.
Domestic animals are invaluable resources for study of the molecular architecture of complex traits. Although the mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL) responsible for economically important traits in domestic animals has achieved remarkable results in recent decades, not all of the genetic variation in the complex traits has been captured because of the low density of markers used in QTL mapping studies. The genome wide association study (GWAS), which utilizes high-density single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), provides a new way to tackle this issue. Encouraging achievements in dissection of the genetic mechanisms of complex diseases in humans have resulted from the use of GWAS. At present, GWAS has been applied to the field of domestic animal breeding and genetics, and some advances have been made. Many genes or markers that affect economic traits of interest in domestic animals have been identified. In this review, advances in the use of GWAS in domestic animals are described.
Domestic animals; Genome wide association study (GWAS); Quantitative trait loci (QTL); Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
Most phenotypic variation present in natural populations is under polygenic control, largely determined by genetic variation at quantitative trait loci (QTLs). These genetic loci frequently interact with the environment, development, and each other, yet the importance of these interactions on the underlying genetic architecture of quantitative traits is not well characterized. To better study how epistasis and development may influence quantitative traits, we studied genetic variation in Arabidopsis glucosinolate activation using the moderately sized Bayreuth×Shahdara recombinant inbred population, in terms of number of lines. We identified QTLs for glucosinolate activation at three different developmental stages. Numerous QTLs showed developmental dependency, as well as a large epistatic network, centered on the previously cloned large-effect glucosinolate activation QTL, ESP. Analysis of Heterogeneous Inbred Families validated seven loci and all of the QTL×DPG (days post-germination) interactions tested, but was complicated by the extensive epistasis. A comparison of transcript accumulation data within 211 of these RILs showed an extensive overlap of gene expression QTLs for structural specifiers and their homologs with the identified glucosinolate activation loci. Finally, we were able to show that two of the QTLs are the result of whole-genome duplications of a glucosinolate activation gene cluster. These data reveal complex age-dependent regulation of structural outcomes and suggest that transcriptional regulation is associated with a significant portion of the underlying ontogenic variation and epistatic interactions in glucosinolate activation.
A principal interest in biology is to understand how natural genetic variation translates into phenotypic variation. A key component of this connection is how the genetic variation interacts with other sources of variation, such as environment (G×E), development (G×D), or other genetic loci (G×G or epistasis). To analyze the molecular underpinnings of these quantitative genetics interaction terms, we investigated the genetic architecture of an adaptive trait, glucosinolate activation, in Arabidopsis thaliana during the development of what is considered a static mature rosette. Variation in glucosinolate activation was principally controlled by epistatic and G×D interactions. Epistatic interactions identified both Mendelian epistasis, where regulatory loci controlled enzymatic loci, and quantitative interactions between regulatory loci. G×D appeared to involve master regulatory loci as determined by trans-eQTL hotspot analysis. Finally, two common glucosinolate activation QTLs appear to have evolved via gene loss and sub-functionalization following quadruplication of an ancestral genomic fragment, potentially by two whole-genome duplications. Thus, genomic duplication events may facilitate the formation of quantitative genetic variation. This study provides insights into the molecular basis of the link between genetic and phenotypic variation in a potentially adaptive trait.
Somatic growth is a complex process that involves the action and interaction of genes and environment. A number of quantitative trait loci (QTL) previously identified for body weight and condition factor in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and two other salmonid species, were used to further investigate the genetic architecture of growth-influencing genes in this species. Relationships among previously mapped candidate genes for growth and their co-localization to identified QTL regions are reported. Furthermore, using a comparative genomic analysis of syntenic rainbow trout linkage group clusters to their homologous regions within model teleost species such as zebrafish, stickleback and medaka, inferences were made regarding additional possible candidate genes underlying identified QTL regions.
Body weight (BW) QTL were detected on the majority of rainbow trout linkage groups across 10 parents from 3 strains. However, only 10 linkage groups (i.e., RT-3, -6, -8, -9, -10, -12, -13, -22, -24, -27) possessed QTL regions with chromosome-wide or genome-wide effects across multiple parents. Fewer QTL for condition factor (K) were identified and only six instances of co-localization across families were detected (i.e. RT-9, -15, -16, -23, -27, -31 and RT-2/9 homeologs). Of note, both BW and K QTL co-localize on RT-9 and RT-27. The incidence of epistatic interaction across genomic regions within different female backgrounds was also examined, and although evidence for interaction effects within certain QTL regions were evident, these interactions were few in number and statistically weak. Of interest, however, was the fact that these predominantly occurred within K QTL regions. Currently mapped growth candidate genes are largely congruent with the identified QTL regions. More QTL were detected in male, compared to female parents, with the greatest number evident in an F1 male parent derived from an intercross between domesticated and wild strain of rainbow trout which differed strongly in growth rate.
Strain background influences the degree to which QTL effects are evident for growth-related genes. The process of domestication (which primarily selects faster growing fish) may largely reduce the genetic influences on growth-specific phenotypic variation. Although heritabilities have been reported to be relatively high for both BW and K growth traits, the genetic architecture of K phenotypic variation appears less defined (i.e., fewer major contributing QTL regions were identified compared with BW QTL regions).
Genomic imprinting, a phenomenon referring to nonequivalent expression of alleles depending on their parental origins, has been widely observed in nature. It has been shown recently that the epigenetic modification of an imprinted gene can be detected through a genetic mapping approach. Such an approach is developed based on traditional quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping focusing on single trait analysis. Recent studies have shown that most imprinted genes in mammals play an important role in controlling embryonic growth and post-natal development. For a developmental character such as growth, current approach is less efficient in dissecting the dynamic genetic effect of imprinted genes during individual ontology.
Functional mapping has been emerging as a powerful framework for mapping quantitative trait loci underlying complex traits showing developmental characteristics. To understand the genetic architecture of dynamic imprinted traits, we propose a mapping strategy by integrating the functional mapping approach with genomic imprinting. We demonstrate the approach through mapping imprinted QTL controlling growth trajectories in an inbred F2 population. The statistical behavior of the approach is shown through simulation studies, in which the parameters can be estimated with reasonable precision under different simulation scenarios. The utility of the approach is illustrated through real data analysis in an F2 family derived from LG/J and SM/J mouse stains. Three maternally imprinted QTLs are identified as regulating the growth trajectory of mouse body weight.
The functional iQTL mapping approach developed here provides a quantitative and testable framework for assessing the interplay between imprinted genes and a developmental process, and will have important implications for elucidating the genetic architecture of imprinted traits.
Understanding the genetic basis of common disease and disease-related quantitative traits will aid in the development of diagnostics and therapeutics. The processs of gene discovery can be sped up by rapid and effective integration of well-defined mouse genome and phenome data resources. We describe here an in silico gene-discovery strategy through genome-wide association (GWA) scans in inbred mice with a wide range of genetic variation. We identified 937 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) from a survey of 173 mouse phenotypes, which include models of human disease (atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity) as well as behavioral, hematological, immunological, metabolic, and neurological traits. 67% of QTLs were refined into genomic regions <0.5 Mb with ∼40-fold increase in mapping precision as compared with classical linkage analysis. This makes for more efficient identification of the genes that underlie disease. We have identified two QTL genes, Adam12 and Cdh2, as causal genetic variants for atherogenic diet-induced obesity. Our findings demonstrate that GWA analysis in mice has the potential to resolve multiple tightly linked QTLs and achieve single-gene resolution. These high-resolution QTL data can serve as a primary resource for positional cloning and gene identification in the research community.
Since the beginnings of domestication, the craniofacial architecture of the domestic dog has morphed and radiated to human whims. By beginning to define the genetic underpinnings of breed skull shapes, we can elucidate mechanisms of morphological diversification while presenting a framework for understanding human cephalic disorders. Using intrabreed association mapping with museum specimen measurements, we show that skull shape is regulated by at least five quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Our detailed analysis using whole-genome sequencing uncovers a missense mutation in BMP3. Validation studies in zebrafish show that Bmp3 function in cranial development is ancient. Our study reveals the causal variant for a canine QTL contributing to a major morphologic trait.
As a result of selective breeding practices, modern dogs display a multitude of head shapes. Breeds such as the Pug and Bulldog popularize one of these morphologies, termed “brachycephaly.” A short, upward-pointing snout, a massive and rounded head, and an underbite typify brachycephalic breeds. Here, we have coupled the phenotypes collected from museum skulls with the genotypes collected from dogs and identified five regions of the dog genome that are associated with canine brachycephaly. Fine mapping at one of these regions revealed a causal mutation in the gene BMP3. Bmp3's role in regulating cranial development is evolutionarily ancient, as zebrafish require its function to generate a normal craniofacial morphology. Our data begin to expose the genetic mechanisms unknowingly employed by breeders to create and diversify the cranial shape of dogs.
• Background and Aims Serpentine soils provide a highly selective substrate for plant colonization and growth and represent an ideal system for studying the evolution of plant-ecotypes. In the present study the aim was to identify the genetic architecture of morphological traits distinguishing serpentine and non-serpentine ecotypes of Silene vulgaris.
• Methods Using an F2 mapping population derived from an intraspecific cross between a serpentine and a non-serpentine ecotype of S. vulgaris, the genetic architecture of 12 morphological traits was explored using a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis.
• Key Results The QTL analysis identified a total of 49 QTLs, of which 24 were classified as major QTLs. The mean number of QTLs per trait category was found to correspond well with numbers reported in the literature for similar crosses. Clustering of QTLs for different traits was found on several linkage groups.
• Conclusions Morphological traits that differentiate the two ecotypes are strongly correlated, presumably as a consequence of the joint effects of extensive linkage of QTLs for different traits and directional selection. The signature of consistent directional selection was found for leaf and shoot trait divergence. Intraspecific ecotype differences in S. vulgaris were found to be distributed across the entire genome. The study shows that QTL analyses on non-model organisms can provide novel insights into the genetic basis of plant diversification.
AFLP; directional selection; ecological divergence; ecotype; habitat adaptation; intraspecific differences; linkage map; QTL; serpentine; Silene vulgaris
Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping identifies genomic regions that likely contain genes regulating a quantitative trait. However, QTL regions may encompass tens to hundreds of genes. To find the most promising candidate genes that regulate the trait, the biologist typically collects information from multiple resources about the genes in the QTL interval. This process is very laborious and time consuming.
QTLminer is a bioinformatics tool that automatically performs QTL region analysis. It is available in GeneNetwork and it integrates information such as gene annotation, gene expression and sequence polymorphisms for all the genes within a given genomic interval.
QTLminer substantially speeds up discovery of the most promising candidate genes within a QTL region.
Most natural populations display substantial genetic variation in behaviour, morphology, physiology, life history and the susceptibility to disease. A major challenge is to determine the contributions of individual loci to variation in complex traits. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping has identified genomic regions affecting ecologically significant traits of many species. In nearly all cases, however, the importance of these QTLs to population variation remains unclear. In this paper, we apply a novel experimental method to parse the genetic variance of floral traits of the annual plant Mimulus guttatus into contributions of individual QTLs. We first use QTL-mapping to identify nine loci and then conduct a population-based breeding experiment to estimate VQ, the genetic variance attributable to each QTL. We find that three QTLs with moderate effects explain up to one-third of the genetic variance in the natural population. Variation at these loci is probably maintained by some form of balancing selection. Notably, the largest effect QTLs were relatively minor in their contribution to heritability.
flower size; genome-wide association studies (GWAS); heritability; Mimulus guttatus; QTLs
The observation that male genitalia diverge more rapidly than other morphological traits during evolution is taxonomically widespread and likely due to some form of sexual selection. One way to elucidate the evolutionary forces acting on these traits is to detail the genetic architecture of variation both within and between species, a program of research that is considerably more tractable in a model system. Drosophila melanogaster and its sibling species, D. simulans, D. mauritiana, and D. sechellia, are morphologically distinguishable only by the shape of the posterior lobe, a male-specific elaboration of the genital arch. We extend earlier studies identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) responsible for lobe divergence across species and report the first genetic dissection of lobe shape variation within a species. Using an advanced intercross mapping design, we identify three autosomal QTL contributing to the difference in lobe shape between a pair of D. melanogaster inbred lines. The QTL each contribute 4.6–10.7% to shape variation, and two show a significant epistatic interaction. Interestingly, these intraspecific QTL map to the same locations as interspecific lobe QTL, implying some shared genetic control of the trait within and between species. As a first step toward a mechanistic understanding of natural lobe shape variation, we find an association between our QTL data and a set of genes that show sex-biased expression in the developing genital imaginal disc (the precursor of the adult genitalia). These genes are good candidates to harbor naturally segregating polymorphisms contributing to posterior lobe shape.
QTL mapping; sexual selection; morphometric analysis; evolution
Over the past 15 years advances in the porcine genetic linkage map and discovery of useful candidate genes have led to valuable gene and trait information being discovered. Early use of exotic breed crosses and now commercial breed crosses for quantitative trait loci (QTL) scans and candidate gene analyses have led to 110 publications which have identified 1,675 QTL. Additionally, these studies continue to identify genes associated with economically important traits such as growth rate, leanness, feed intake, meat quality, litter size, and disease resistance. A well developed QTL database called PigQTLdb is now as a valuable tool for summarizing and pinpointing in silico regions of interest to researchers. The commercial pig industry is actively incorporating these markers in marker-assisted selection along with traditional performance information to improve traits of economic performance. The long awaited sequencing efforts are also now beginning to provide sequence available for both comparative genomics and large scale single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association studies. While these advances are all positive, development of useful new trait families and measurement of new or underlying traits still limits future discoveries. A review of these developments is presented.
Pig; Quantitative trait Loci; QTL; genome sequence; database
Milk composition traits exhibit a complex genetic architecture with a small number of major quantitative trait loci (QTL) explaining a large fraction of the genetic variation and numerous QTL with minor effects. In order to identify QTL for milk fat percentage (FP) in the German Holstein-Friesian (HF) population, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed. The study population consisted of 2327 progeny-tested bulls. Genotypes were available for 44,280 SNPs. Phenotypes in the form of estimated breeding values (EBVs) for FP were used as highly heritable traits. A variance components-based approach was used to account for population stratification. The GWAS identified four major QTL regions explaining 46.18% of the FP EBV variance. Besides two previously known FP QTL on BTA14 (P = 8.91×10−198) and BTA20 (P = 7.03×10−12) within DGAT1 and GHR, respectively, we uncovered two additional QTL regions on BTA5 (P = 2.00×10−13) and BTA27 (P = 9.83×10−5) encompassing EPS8 and GPAT4, respectively. EPS8 and GPAT4 are involved in lipid metabolism in mammals. Re-sequencing of EPS8 and GPAT4 revealed 50 polymorphisms. Genotypes for five of them were inferred for the entire study population. Two polymorphisms affecting potential transcription factor binding sites of EPS8 (P = 1.40×10−12) and GPAT4 (P = 5.18×10−5), respectively, were highly significantly associated with the FP EBV. Our results provide evidence that alteration of regulatory sites is an important aspect of genetic variation of complex traits in cattle.
Identification of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) is an emerging area in genomic study. The task requires an integrated analysis of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data and gene expression data, raising a new computational challenge due to the tremendous size of data.
We develop a method to identify eQTLs. The method represents eQTLs as information flux between genetic variants and transcripts. We use information theory to simultaneously interrogate SNP and gene expression data, resulting in a Transcriptional Information Map (TIM) which captures the network of transcriptional information that links genetic variations, gene expression and regulatory mechanisms. These maps are able to identify both cis- and trans- regulating eQTLs. The application on a dataset of leukemia patients identifies eQTLs in the regions of the GART, PCP4, DSCAM, and RIPK4 genes that regulate ADAMTS1, a known leukemia correlate.
The information theory approach presented in this paper is able to infer the dependence networks between SNPs and transcripts, which in turn can identify cis- and trans-eQTLs. The application of our method to the leukemia study explains how genetic variants and gene expression are linked to leukemia.
Integrating QTL results from independent experiments performed on related species helps to survey the genetic diversity of loci/alleles underlying complex traits, and to highlight potential targets for breeding or QTL cloning. Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) late blight resistance has been thoroughly studied, generating mapping data for many Rpi-genes (R-genes to Phytophthora infestans) and QTLs (quantitative trait loci). Moreover, late blight resistance was often associated with plant maturity. To get insight into the genomic organization of late blight resistance loci as compared to maturity QTLs, a QTL meta-analysis was performed for both traits.
Nineteen QTL publications for late blight resistance were considered, seven of them reported maturity QTLs. Twenty-one QTL maps and eight reference maps were compiled to construct a 2,141-marker consensus map on which QTLs were projected and clustered into meta-QTLs. The whole-genome QTL meta-analysis reduced by six-fold late blight resistance QTLs (by clustering 144 QTLs into 24 meta-QTLs), by ca. five-fold maturity QTLs (by clustering 42 QTLs into eight meta-QTLs), and by ca. two-fold QTL confidence interval mean. Late blight resistance meta-QTLs were observed on every chromosome and maturity meta-QTLs on only six chromosomes.
Meta-analysis helped to refine the genomic regions of interest frequently described, and provided the closest flanking markers. Meta-QTLs of late blight resistance and maturity juxtaposed along chromosomes IV, V and VIII, and overlapped on chromosomes VI and XI. The distribution of late blight resistance meta-QTLs is significantly independent from those of Rpi-genes, resistance gene analogs and defence-related loci. The anchorage of meta-QTLs to the potato genome sequence, recently publicly released, will especially improve the candidate gene selection to determine the genes underlying meta-QTLs. All mapping data are available from the Sol Genomics Network (SGN) database.
The honeybee has been the most important insect species for study of social behavior. The recently released draft genomic sequence for the bee will accelerate honeybee behavioral genetics. Although we lack sufficient tools to manipulate this genome easily, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that influence natural variation in behavior have been identified and tested for their effects on correlated behavioral traits. We review what is known about the genetics and physiology of two behavioral traits in honeybees, foraging specialization (pollen versus nectar), and defensive behavior, and present evidence that map-based cloning of genes is more feasible in the bee than in other metazoans. We also present bioinformatic analyses of candidate genes within QTL confidence intervals (CIs). The high recombination rate of the bee made it possible to narrow the search to regions containing only 17–61 predicted peptides for each QTL, although CIs covered large genetic distances. Knowledge of correlated behavioral traits, comparative bioinformatics, and expression assays facilitated evaluation of candidate genes. An overrepresentation of genes involved in ovarian development and insulin-like signaling components within pollen foraging QTL regions suggests that an ancestral reproductive gene network was co-opted during the evolution of foraging specialization. The major QTL influencing defensive/aggressive behavior contains orthologs of genes involved in central nervous system activity and neurogenesis. Candidates at the other two defensive-behavior QTLs include modulators of sensory signaling (Am5HT7 serotonin receptor, AmArr4 arrestin, and GABA-B-R1 receptor). These studies are the first step in linking natural variation in honeybee social behavior to the identification of underlying genes.
Apis mellifera; Recombination rate; Insulin-like signaling; Foraging behavior; Aggressive behavior; Candidate genes; Behavior genetics
Quantitative approaches are now widely used to study the genetic architecture of complex traits. However, most studies have been conducted in single mapping populations, which sample only a fraction of the natural allelic variation available within a gene pool and can identify only a subset of the loci controlling the traits. To enable the progress towards an understanding of the global genetic architecture of a broad range of complex traits, we have developed and characterised six new Arabidopsis thaliana recombinant inbred populations. To evaluate the utility of these populations for integrating analyses from multiple populations, we identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling flowering time in vernalized plants growing in 16 h days. We used the physical positions of markers to align the linkage maps of our populations with those of six existing populations. We identified seven QTL in genomic locations coinciding with those identified in previous studies and in addition a further eight QTL were identified.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-007-0696-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Mutation generates the heritable variation that genetic drift and natural selection shape. In classical quantitative genetic models, drift is a function of the effective population size and acts uniformly across traits, while mutation and selection act trait-specifically. We identified thousands of quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing transcript abundance traits in a cross of two C. elegans strains; although trait-specific mutation and selection explained some of the observed pattern of QTL distribution, the pattern was better explained by trait-independent variation in the intensity of selection on linked sites. Our results suggest that traits in C. elegans exhibit different levels of variation less because of their own attributes than because of differences in the effective population sizes of the genomic regions harboring their underlying loci.
Behavioral genetic mapping studies in model organisms predominantly use crosses originating from a single pair of inbred lines to determine the location of alleles that confer genetic variation in the trait of interest, and they often make sweeping generalizations about the genetic architecture of the trait based on these results. A previous study fine mapped mate preference variation between one pair of Drosophila pseudoobscura lines and identified 2 strong-effect behavioral quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Here, we replicated the previous study's mapping design to examine the extent of variation at these behavioral QTLs across 6 pairs of lines, but we were unable to detect effects of either QTL region in the pairs of lines studied. We suggest that the low-discrimination alleles at these 2 QTLs may occur at low frequency within D. pseudoobscura, although other explanations for the inconsistency are possible. These results underscore the need to examine multiple strains across a species when describing the genetic variation underlying behavioral traits.
Drosophila; QTL mapping; sexual isolation; species discrimination
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, the pathogenesis of which is affected by multiple genetic and environmental factors. To understand the genetic and molecular basis of RA, a large number of quantitative trait loci (QTL) that regulate experimental autoimmune arthritis have been identified using various rat models for RA. However, identifying the particular responsible genes within these QTL remains a major challenge. Using currently available genome data and gene annotation information, we systematically examined RA-associated genes and polymorphisms within and outside QTL over the whole rat genome. By the whole genome analysis of genes and polymorphisms, we found that there are significantly more RA-associated genes in QTL regions as contrasted with non-QTL regions. Further experimental studies are necessary to determine whether these known RA-associated genes or polymorphisms are genetic components causing the QTL effect.
The largest genetic study to date of morphology in domestic dogs identifies genes
controlling nearly 100 morphological traits and identifies important trends in
phenotypic variation within this species.
Domestic dogs exhibit tremendous phenotypic diversity, including a greater
variation in body size than any other terrestrial mammal. Here, we generate a
high density map of canine genetic variation by genotyping 915 dogs from 80
domestic dog breeds, 83 wild canids, and 10 outbred African shelter dogs across
60,968 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Coupling this genomic resource
with external measurements from breed standards and individuals as well as
skeletal measurements from museum specimens, we identify 51 regions of the dog
genome associated with phenotypic variation among breeds in 57 traits. The
complex traits include average breed body size and external body dimensions and
cranial, dental, and long bone shape and size with and without allometric
scaling. In contrast to the results from association mapping of quantitative
traits in humans and domesticated plants, we find that across dog breeds, a
small number of quantitative trait loci (≤3) explain the majority of
phenotypic variation for most of the traits we studied. In addition, many
genomic regions show signatures of recent selection, with most of the highly
differentiated regions being associated with breed-defining traits such as body
size, coat characteristics, and ear floppiness. Our results demonstrate the
efficacy of mapping multiple traits in the domestic dog using a database of
genotyped individuals and highlight the important role human-directed selection
has played in altering the genetic architecture of key traits in this important
Dogs offer a unique system for the study of genes controlling morphology. DNA
from 915 dogs from 80 domestic breeds, as well as a set of feral dogs, was
tested at over 60,000 points of variation and the dataset analyzed using novel
methods to find loci regulating body size, head shape, leg length, ear position,
and a host of other traits. Because each dog breed has undergone strong
selection by breeders to have a particular appearance, there is a strong
footprint of selection in regions of the genome that are important for
controlling traits that define each breed. These analyses identified new regions
of the genome, or loci, that are important in controlling body size and shape.
Our results, which feature the largest number of domestic dogs studied at such a
high level of genetic detail, demonstrate the power of the dog as a model for
finding genes that control the body plan of mammals. Further, we show that the
remarkable diversity of form in the dog, in contrast to some other species
studied to date, appears to have a simple genetic basis dominated by genes of
Hybrid poplars species are candidates for biomass production but breeding efforts are needed to combine productivity and water use efficiency in improved cultivars. The understanding of the genetic architecture of growth in poplar by a Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) approach can help us to elucidate the molecular basis of such integrative traits but identifying candidate genes underlying these QTLs remains difficult. Nevertheless, the increase of genomic information together with the accessibility to a reference genome sequence (Populus trichocarpa Nisqually-1) allow to bridge QTL information on genetic maps and physical location of candidate genes on the genome. The objective of the study is to identify QTLs controlling productivity, architecture and leaf traits in a P. deltoides x P. trichocarpa F1 progeny and to identify candidate genes underlying QTLs based on the anchoring of genetic maps on the genome and the gene ontology information linked to genome annotation. The strategy to explore genome annotation was to use Gene Ontology enrichment tools to test if some functional categories are statistically over-represented in QTL regions.
Four leaf traits and 7 growth traits were measured on 330 F1 P. deltoides x P. trichocarpa progeny. A total of 77 QTLs controlling 11 traits were identified explaining from 1.8 to 17.2% of the variation of traits. For 58 QTLs, confidence intervals could be projected on the genome. An extended functional annotation was built based on data retrieved from the plant genome database Phytozome and from an inference of function using homology between Populus and the model plant Arabidopsis. Genes located within QTL confidence intervals were retrieved and enrichments in gene ontology (GO) terms were determined using different methods. Significant enrichments were found for all traits. Particularly relevant biological processes GO terms were identified for QTLs controlling number of sylleptic branches: intervals were enriched in GO terms of biological process like ‘ripening’ and ‘adventitious roots development’.
Beyond the simple identification of QTLs, this study is the first to use a global approach of GO terms enrichment analysis to fully explore gene function under QTLs confidence intervals in plants. This global approach may lead to identification of new candidate genes for traits of interest.