Building phenotype networks to improve QTL detection: A comparative analysis of fatty acid and fat traits in pigs

B. Yang, N. Navarro, J. L. Noguera, M. Muñoz, T. F. Guo, K. X. Yang, J. W. Ma, J. M. Folch, L. S. Huang, M. Pérez-Enciso

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Models in QTL mapping can be improved by considering all potential variables, i.e. we can use remaining traits other than the trait under study as potential predictors. QTL mapping is often conducted by correcting for a few fixed effects or covariates (e.g. sex, age), although many traits with potential causal relationships between them are recorded. In this work, we evaluate by simulation several procedures to identify optimum models in QTL scans: forward selection, undirected dependency graph and QTL-directed dependency graph (QDG). The latter, QDG, performed better in terms of power and false discovery rate and was applied to fatty acid (FA) composition and fat deposition traits in two pig F2 crosses from China and Spain. Compared with the typical QTL mapping, QDG approach revealed several new QTL. To the contrary, several FA QTL on chromosome 4 (e.g. Palmitic, C16:0; Stearic, C18:0) detected by typical mapping vanished after adjusting for phenotypic covariates in QDG mapping. This suggests that the QTL detected in typical mapping could be indirect. When a QTL is supported by both approaches, there is an increased confidence that the QTL have a primary effect on the corresponding trait. An example is a QTL for C16:1 on chromosome 8. In conclusion, mapping QTL based on causal phenotypic networks can increase power and help to make more biologically sound hypothesis on the genetic architecture of complex traits. © 2011 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-343
JournalJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • Complex trait
  • Multivariate data
  • Pig
  • QTL
  • Structural modelling


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