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Genetics 1999 Nov;153(3):1233-43


Quantitative trait loci affecting survival and fertility-related traits in Caenorhabditis elegans show genotype-environment interactions, pleiotropy and epistasis.


Shook DR, Johnson TE

Institute for Behavioral Genetics, Population and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.

We have identified, using composite interval mapping, quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting a variety of life history traits (LHTs) in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Using recombinant inbred strains assayed on the surface of agar plates, we found QTL for survival, early fertility, age of onset of sexual maturity, and population growth rate. There was no overall correlation between survival on solid media and previous measures of survival in liquid media. Of the four survival QTL found in these two environments, two have genotype-environment interactions (GEIs). Epistatic interactions between markers were detected for four traits. A multiple regression approach was used to determine which single markers and epistatic interactions best explained the phenotypic variance for each trait. The amount of phenotypic variance accounted for by genetic effects ranged from 13% (for internal hatching) to 46% (for population growth). Epistatic effects accounted for 9-11% of the phenotypic variance for three traits. Two regions containing QTL that affected more than one fertility-related trait were found. This study serves as an example of the power of QTL mapping for dissecting the genetic architecture of a suite of LHTs and indicates the potential importance of environment and GEIs in the evolution of this architecture