Study Links Complex Traits with Genes

PRINCETON, N.J., April 20 (UPI) — Princeton University researchers say they have developed a new method of identifying hidden genetic material that is responsible for complex traits.

The scientists led by Professor Leonid Kruglyak say their achievement might lead to a deeper understanding of how multiple genes interact to produce everything from blue eyes to blood pressure problems.

The researchers said their method allows them to study millions of yeast cells at the same time. That enables the identification of regions of the genome that cause a specific trait in the offspring of two yeast strains that have been mated. In using such a large group, the scientists say they’ve been able to identify subtle patterns that could not previously have been detected.

“One of the important insights gained from research enabled by the sequencing of the human genome is that, rather than being obvious, the connections between genes and most traits are very complicated,” Kruglyak said. “Our results show, however, that it is possible to identify many of the factors underlying complex traits using straightforward techniques.”

He said the finding could help illuminate the answers to the current difficulties inherent in tying traits to genes.

The research is reported in the April 15 edition of the journal Nature.

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