Evolutionary inference from QST

Mol Ecol. 2008 Apr;17(8):1885-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.03712.x. Epub 2008 Mar 17.


Q(ST) is a commonly used metric of the degree of genetic differentiation among populations displayed by quantitative traits. Typically, Q(ST) is compared to F(ST) measured on putatively neutral loci; if Q(ST)=F(ST), this is taken as evidence of spatially heterogeneous and diversifying selection. This paper reviews the uses, assumptions and statistics of Q(ST) and F(ST) comparisons. Unfortunately, Q(ST)/F(ST) comparisons are statistically challenging. For a single trait, Q(ST) must be compared not to the mean F(ST) but to the distribution of F(ST) values. The sources of biases and sampling error for Q(ST) are reviewed, and a new method for comparing Q(ST) and F(ST) is suggested. Simulation results suggest that the distribution of neutral F(ST) and Q(ST) values are little affected by various deviations from the island model. Consequently, the distributions of Q(ST) and F(ST) are well approximated by the Lewontin-Krakauer prediction, even with realistic deviations from the island-model assumptions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Drift*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Selection, Genetic*