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Wagner et al. reply

Nature volume 456, page E4 (04 December 2008) | Download Citation


Reply to: J. Hermisson & A. P. McGregor Nature 456, 10.1038/nature07452 (2008)

In our paper on pleiotropic scaling and the cost of complexity1, we presented evidence for three findings: first, most genes affect a small number of traits (the degree of pleiotropy is low); second, the total effect of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) increases with the degree of pleiotropy, refuting the constant total effect model2,3; and third, the increase in total effect (defined as , where Ai is the effect on character i, that is, half the difference between the genotypic values of the homozygous genotypes) seems to be stronger than predicted by the superposition model4,5 of pleiotropic effects. Hermisson and McGregor6 point out that the last result could be due to multiple mutations being mapped to the same QTL, but only if these mutations affect overlapping sets of traits. We agree that this is a possibility that we could not address with the data at hand.

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Author information


  1. *Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8106, USA.

    • Günter P. Wagner
  2. †Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA

    • Jane P. Kenney-Hunt
    • , Mihaela Pavlicev
    •  & James M. Cheverud
  3. ‡Center for the Study of Evolution, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK

    • Joel R. Peck
    •  & David Waxman


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