Quantitative trait loci (QTL) with small effects on phenotypic variation can be difficult to detect and analyze. Because of this a large fraction of the genetic architecture of many complex traits is not well understood. Here we use sporulation efficiency in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model complex trait to identify and study small-effect QTL. In crosses where the large-effect quantitative trait nucleotides (QTN) have been genetically fixed we identify small-effect QTL that explain approximately half of the remaining variation not explained by the major effects. We find that small-effect QTL are often physically linked to large-effect QTL and that there are extensive genetic interactions between small- and large-effect QTL. A more complete understanding of quantitative traits will require a better understanding of the numbers, effect sizes, and genetic interactions of small-effect QTL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1132
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012


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