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Nice review, Advances and limits of using population genetics to understand local adaptation. In particular the focus here is on the insights one can derive from new genomic methods (e.g., think of SFS analysis). But they on a cautious, perhaps even down, note:

Many of the important questions in local adaptation being pursued with population genetics approaches begin – rather than end – with identifying loci responsible for variation. It is therefore important to realize that a full accounting of local adaptation at the molecular level goes beyond having high-quality data to analyze and statistical methods to identify causative genes. The crux of the challenge is that most ecologically important traits responsible for local adaptation are quantitative, and identifying all of the genes responsible for variation in quantitative traits is likely not possible. Even the cumulative explanatory power of individual loci identified in human genotype–phenotype association studies, which often involve tens of thousands of individuals, is generally only a small percentage of the phenotypic variation….

But I want to note that they cite a paper from 2012, and the work in capturing the fraction of phenotypic variation from genomic variation for height has gotten much better since then. So perhaps in that way that is a reason for optimism. Though, as they note, humans are a best case scenario since the sample sizes are enormous. Just a nice reminder of the limitations of the ‘post-genomic’ era.

• Category: Science • Tags: Population Genetics 
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  1. As you point out, their pessimism is based on results that are now superseded, both for reasons of sample size and method of analysis (below). Tens of thousands of individuals is not a big sample when it comes to human genetics.

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