Abstracts (first author)
QTNs of no effect
The effect-size distribution of QTNs is at the heart of much debate in the evolutionary genetics community. An important complication is that effect sizes are not intrinsic properties of alleles. They depend on environment and genetic background in complicated ways. Using C. elegans as a model, we have found that populations harbor extensive genetic variation with no effect on phenotype under ordinary conditions but with life-or-death consequences in perturbed conditions. Alleles with no phenotypic effect at all may contribute to adaptive evolution when background or environment changes. Given that alleles of all effect sizes clearly contribute to evolution, our research program should shift to identifying the biological circumstances that favor adaptation by specific genetic architectures.