For most complex traits we have a poor understanding of the positions, phenotypic effects, and population frequencies of the underlying genetic variants contributing to their variation. Recently, several groups have developed multi-parent advanced intercross mapping panels in different model organisms in an attempt to improve our ability to characterize causative genetic variants. These panels are powerful and are particularly well suited to the dissection of phenotypic variation generated by rare alleles and loci segregating multiple functional alleles. We describe studies using one such panel, the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource (DSPR), and the implications for our understanding of the genetic basis of complex traits. In particular, we note that many loci of large effect appear to be multiallelic. If multiallelism is a general rule, analytical approaches designed to identify multiallelic variants should be a priority for both genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and multi-parental panels.
Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; complex traits; missing heritability; multi-parental population; multiallelism.
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