Quantitative Genetics: Evolution of Complex Traits

Most traits are influenced by very large numbers of genetic variants.  This has long been known, and is described in the limit by Fisher’s “infinitesimal model”; it has received wider attention recently, as genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have shown the highly polygenic nature of variation in quantitative traits.  Funmi Olusanya is  applying the “infinitesimal model” to understand local adaptation in meta-populations. Himani Sachdeva (Univ. Vienna) and Nick Barton are extending the infinitesimal model to include linkage. Stefanie Belohlavy is developing ways to estimate the relative contribution of discrete loci versus an infinitesimal background. Sean Stankowski and Anja Westram are working  on quantitative variation across hybrid zones in Antirrhinum and Littorina. Gemma Puixea studies the conflicting selection on gene expression in the two sexes.  Laura Hayward is making a mathematical analusis Michal Hledik aims to understand the evolution of networks of gene regulation, and has recently derived a general bound on the rate at which selection can accumulate information.

Recent Papers

Barton, N.H. 2017. How does epistasis influence the response to selection? Heredity 118.1 (2017): 96-109.  doi:10.1038/hdy.2016.109 

Barton, N.H., Etheridge, A.M., Veber, A. 2017. The infinitesimal model: definition, derivation and implications. Theoretical Population Biology 118: 50-73.

Sachdeva, H., Barton, N.H. 2018. Introgression of a block of genome under infinitesimal selection. Genetics 209: 1279-1303.

Sella, G., Barton, N.H. 2019. Thinking about the evolution of phenotypic variation in quantitative traits in the era of GWAS. Ann. Rev. Hum. Genet. Genom. 20: 461-493 doi: 10.1146/annurev-genom-083115-022316

Castro, J.P.L., et al. 2019. An integrative genomic analysis of the Longshanks selection experiment for longer limbs in mice. eLife

Hledik, M., Barton, N.H., Tkacik, G. 2022. Accumulation and maintenance of information in evolution. PNAS (in press)

Hayward, L. & Sella, G. 2022. Polygenic adaptation after a sudden change in environment. eLife (in press)