Mapping quantitative trait loci in the case of a spike in the phenotype distribution

Genetics. 2003 Mar;163(3):1169-75. doi: 10.1093/genetics/163.3.1169.


A common departure from the usual normality assumption in QTL mapping concerns a spike in the phenotype distribution. For example, in measurements of tumor mass, some individuals may exhibit no tumors; in measurements of time to death after a bacterial infection, some individuals may recover from the infection and fail to die. If an appreciable portion of individuals share a common phenotype value (generally either the minimum or the maximum observed phenotype), the standard approach to QTL mapping can behave poorly. We describe several alternative approaches for QTL mapping in the case of such a spike in the phenotype distribution, including the use of a two-part parametric model and a nonparametric approach based on the Kruskal-Wallis test. The performance of the proposed procedures is assessed via computer simulation. The procedures are further illustrated with data from an intercross experiment to identify QTL contributing to variation in survival of mice following infection with Listeria monocytogenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Inbreeding
  • Lod Score
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*