Original Article

Heredity (1999) 83, 327–336; doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6885830

Power to detect QTL in a free-living polygynous population

J Slate1, J M Pemberton1 and P M Visscher2

  1. 1Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JT, UK
  2. 2Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK

Correspondence: J Slate, E-mail: j.slate@ed.ac.uk

Received 6 April 1999; Accepted 21 May 1999.



Evolutionary biologists attempting to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) in natural populations have thus far had to carry out some kind of cross with their study organism. Such techniques often increase the probability of detecting linkage, but are impossible or undesirable in many populations. A potential way of overcoming this problem is to carry out linkage studies in large complex pedigrees. In this paper we contrast the power to detect linkage in a complex pedigree of red deer (Cervus elaphus) with that of the widely used half-sib design. When a QTL of magnitude 1 phenotypic standard deviation is segregating and completely linked to a marker, the extended pedigree has power of 0.67, whereas the half-sib design has power of just 0.21. We conclude that detecting QTL may be possible in intensively studied natural populations, provided detailed life history data and good pedigree information are available.


Cervus elaphus, genetic mapping, major gene, natural population, pedigree, red deer