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Scientists Find Number of Authors on Publication Proportional to Number of Loci Associated with Trait Variation
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At least that’s what you’d think in relation to the latest height & genetics paper, Defining the role of common variation in the genomic and biological architecture of adult human height:

Using genome-wide data from 253,288 individuals, we identified 697 variants at genome-wide significance that together explained one-fifth of the heritability for adult height. By testing different numbers of variants in independent studies , we show that the most strongly associated ~2,000, ~3,700 and ~9,500 SNPs explained ~21%, ~24% and ~29% of phenotypic variance. Furthermore, all common variants together captured 60% of heritability. The 697 variants clustered in 423 loci were enriched for genes, pathways and tissue types known to be involved in growth and together implicated genes and pathways not highlighted in earlier efforts, such as signaling by fibroblast growth factors, WNT/β-catenin and chondroitin sulfate–related genes. We identified several genes and pathways not previously connected with human skeletal growth, including mTOR, osteoglycin and binding of hyaluronic acid. Our results indicate a genetic architecture for human height that is characterized by a very large but finite number (thousands) of causal variants.

download Three things to note. First, Peter M Visscher (control-f in the author list) predicted this result ahead of time (i.e., x number of loci will explain y % of variation). Nice empirical validation of the theory. Second, in 2009 an interesting paper was published which showed that classical methods way outperformed genomics when it came to height prediction. I’m not sure that we’ll say that in 2019 at current rates of accounting for heritability via genomics. A lot of work needs to be done to make these results robust for prediction in most cases. But we might get there. Third, it looks that the largest height loci have about one magnitude larger effect than intelligence. Visscher was on the recent IQ and genomics paper which presented only a few valid SNPs. So that domain is far behind height. In the early 2000s I read Behavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic Era. It looks to me that that book (and James Watson’s introduction) will be seen to be a generation ahead of its times. Though I’d still recommend the book, as there’s a lot of information in there that it would behoove you to know.

• Category: Science • Tags: Height, Science 
  1. ohwilleke says: • Website

    I’ve seen (reasonable) claims that the number of genetic variants involved in variations in personality is probably much smaller than the number involved in stature or IQ. Evidence from personality differences in animals like sharks and spiders, where there are a small number of fairly discrete personality types whose proportions vary in populations that live in different conditions tend to suggest this is possible, as do studies in which a single very targeted genetic adjustment can produce gay fruit flies.

    There have also been studies suggesting potential genotype associations with personality traits like impulsivity, resilience in the face of psychological trauma, and the “warrior gene” in humans, again with very simple loci-phenotype associations in such seemingly complex traits.

    Are there any decent estimates out there of how many variants would be involved in particular personality traits in humans?

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