Quantitative trait locus mapping in natural populations: progress, caveats and future directions

Mol Ecol. 2005 Feb;14(2):363-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02378.x.


Over the last 15 years quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping has become a popular method for understanding the genetic basis of continuous variation in a variety of systems. For example, the technique is now an integral tool in medical genetics, livestock production, plant breeding and population genetics of model organisms. Ten years ago, it was suggested that the method could be used to understand continuous variation in natural populations. In this review I: (i) clarify what is meant by natural population in the QTL context, (ii) discuss whether evolutionary biologists have successfully mapped QTL in natural populations, (iii) highlight some of the questions that have been addressed by QTL mapping in natural populations, (iv) describe how QTL mapping can be conducted in unmanipulated natural populations, (v) highlight some of the limitations of QTL mapping and (vi) try to predict some future directions for QTL mapping in natural populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*