Abstracts (first author)
Charting the Genotype-Phenotype map: Lessons from Drosophila
Quantitative traits are affected by multiple interacting loci with individually small and environmentally sensitive effects. Knowledge of the detailed genetic architecture of quantitative traits is important from the perspectives of evolutionary biology, human health and plant and animal breeding. Understanding the genetic architecture of quantitative traits begins with identifying the genes regulating these traits, mapping the subset of genetically varying quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in natural populations, and pinpointing the molecular polymorphisms defining QTL alleles. Drosophila brings an impressive toolkit to the challenge of genetically dissecting quantitative traits. I will discuss insights into the complex genetic architecture of quantitative traits obtained from genome wide association mapping in the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP), which consists of 192 sequenced inbred lines derived from the Raleigh, USA population. These studies indicate that epistatic gene action is common, and additivity can be an emergent property of underlying genetic interaction networks. Epistasis causes hidden quantitative genetic variation in natural populations, the potential for rapid speciation, and negatively impacts the predictive ability of additive models. These observations offer valuable lessons for understanding the genetic basis of variation for quantitative traits in other organisms.