Background: The characterization of the relationship between a longitudinal response process and a time-to-event has been a pressing challenge in biostatistical research. This has emerged as an important issue in genetic studies when one attempts to detect the common genes or quantitative trait loci (QTL) that govern both a longitudinal trajectory and developmental event.
Results: We present a joint statistical model for functional mapping of dynamic traits in which the event times and longitudinal traits are taken to depend on a common set of genetic mechanisms. By fitting the Legendre polynomial of orthogonal properties for the time-dependent mean vector, our model does not rely on any curve, which is different from earlier parametric models of functional mapping. This newly developed nonparametric model is demonstrated and validated by an example for a forest tree in which stemwood growth and the time to first flower are jointly modelled.
Conclusion: Our model allows for the detection of specific QTL that govern both longitudinal traits and developmental processes through either pleiotropic effects or close linkage, or both. This model will have great implications for integrating longitudinal and event data to gain better insights into comprehensive biology and biomedicine.