Genetics: The enigma of genes and environment

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    The interplay between an animal's genes and environment at the molecular level is largely mysterious. Researchers report that, even in a simple yeast model, the two interact in ways that are difficult to predict.

    Barak Cohen and his colleagues at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, created 32 yeast strains carrying different combinations of four single-nucleotide gene variants that affect how efficiently the yeast forms spores. The strains were generated with two different genetic backgrounds and cultured in eight different growth media. The researchers then tracked changes in spore formation under each condition.

    The authors were able to predict the effects of a genetic variant on spore formation, but only after they had accounted for a strain's growth environment and genetic background. This suggests that those studying human genetics and disease need to measure the effects of such factors.

    PLoS Genet. 6, e1001144 (2010)

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    Genetics: The enigma of genes and environment. Nature 468, 9 (2010) doi:10.1038/468009f

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