Relatedness disequilibrium regression estimates heritability without environmental bias

Nat Genet. 2018 Sep;50(9):1304-1310. doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0178-9. Epub 2018 Aug 13.


Heritability measures the proportion of trait variation that is due to genetic inheritance. Measurement of heritability is important in the nature-versus-nurture debate. However, existing estimates of heritability may be biased by environmental effects. Here, we introduce relatedness disequilibrium regression (RDR), a novel method for estimating heritability. RDR avoids most sources of environmental bias by exploiting variation in relatedness due to random Mendelian segregation. We used a sample of 54,888 Icelanders who had both parents genotyped to estimate the heritability of 14 traits, including height (55.4%, s.e. 4.4%) and educational attainment (17.0%, s.e. 9.4%). Our results suggest that some other estimates of heritability may be inflated by environmental effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environment
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable