Small- and Large-Effect Quantitative Trait Locus Interactions Underlie Variation in Yeast Sporulation Efficiency
Quantitative trait loci (QTL) with small effects on phenotypic variation can be difficult to detect and analyze. Because of this a large fraction of the genetic architecture of many complex traits is not well understood. Here we use sporulation efficiency in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model complex trait to identify and study small-effect QTL. In crosses where the large-effect quantitative trait nucleotides (QTN) have been genetically fixed we identify small-effect QTL that explain approximately half of the remaining variation not explained by the major effects. We find that small-effect QTL are often physically linked to large-effect QTL and that there are extensive genetic interactions between small- and large-effect QTL. A more complete understanding of quantitative traits will require a better understanding of the numbers, effect sizes, and genetic interactions of small-effect QTL.