Post-genomic behavioral genetics: From revolution to routine

Genes Brain Behav. 2018 Mar;17(3):e12441. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12441. Epub 2017 Dec 21.


What was once expensive and revolutionary-full-genome sequence-is now affordable and routine. Costs will continue to drop, opening up new frontiers in behavioral genetics. This shift in costs from the genome to the phenome is most notable in large clinical studies of behavior and associated diseases in cohorts that exceed hundreds of thousands of subjects. Examples include the Women's Health Initiative (, the Million Veterans Program (www.

Research:, the 100 000 Genomes Project ( and commercial efforts such as those by deCode ( and 23andme ( The same transition is happening in experimental neuro- and behavioral genetics, and sample sizes of many hundreds of cases are becoming routine (, There are two major consequences of this new affordability of massive omics datasets: (1) it is now far more practical to explore genetic modulation of behavioral differences and the key role of gene-by-environment interactions. Researchers are already doing the hard part-the quantitative analysis of behavior. Adding the omics component can provide powerful links to molecules, cells, circuits and even better treatment. (2) There is an acute need to highlight and train behavioral scientists in how best to exploit new omics approaches. This review addresses this second issue and highlights several new trends and opportunities that will be of interest to experts in animal and human behaviors.

Keywords: GWAS; PheWAS; QTL mapping; behavior; complex traits; genomics; omics; quantitative trait locus; reverse genetics; systems genetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping / trends
  • Genetics, Behavioral / methods
  • Genetics, Behavioral / trends*
  • Genomics / trends*
  • Genotype
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / trends
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics