Next-generation QTL mapping: crowdsourcing SNPs, without pedigrees



For many molecular ecologists, the mantra and mission
of the field of ecological genomics could be encapsulated
by the phrase ‘to find the genes that matter’ (Mitchell-
Olds 2001; Rockman 2012). This phrase of course refers to
the early hope and current increasing success in the
search for genes whose variation underlies phenotypic
variation and fitness in natural populations. In the years
since the modern incarnation of the field of ecological
genomics, many would agree that the low-hanging fruit
has, at least in principle, been plucked: we now have several
elegant examples of genes whose variation influences
key adaptive traits in natural populations, and these
examples have revealed important insights into the architecture
of adaptive variation (Hoekstra et al. 2006; Shapiro
et al. 2009; Chan et al. 2010). But how well will these
early examples, often involving single genes of large
effect on discrete or near-discrete phenotypes, represent
the dynamics of adaptive change for the totality of
phenotypes in nature? Will traits exhibiting continuous
rather than discrete variation in natural populations have
as simple a genetic basis as these early examples suggest
(Prasad et al. 2012; Rockman 2012)? Two papers in this
issue (Robinson et al. 2013; Santure et al. 2013) not only
suggest answers to these questions but also provide
useful extensions of statistical approaches for ecological
geneticists to study the genetics of continuous variation
in nature. Together these papers, by the same research
groups studying evolution in a natural population of
Great Tits (Parus major), provide a glimpse of what we
should expect as the field begins to dissect the genetic
basis of what is arguably the most common type of
variation in nature, and how genome-wide surveys of
variation can be applied to natural populations without

Last updated on 09/22/2016