Wright's method of estimating the number of genes contributing to the difference in a quantitative character between two populations involves observing the means and variances of the two parental populations and their hybrid populations. Although simple, Wright's method provides seriously biased estimates, largely due to linkage and unequal effects of alleles. A method is suggested to evaluate the bias of Wright's estimate, which relies on estimation of the mean recombination frequency between a pair of loci and a composite parameter of variability of allelic effects and frequencies among loci. Assuming that the loci are uniformly distributed in the genome, the mean recombination frequency can be calculated for some organisms. Theoretical analysis and an analysis of the Drosophila data on distributions of effects of P element inserts on bristle numbers indicate that the value of the composite parameter is likely to be about three or larger for many quantitative characters. There are, however, some serious problems with the current method, such as the irregular behavior of the statistic and large sampling variances of estimates. Because of that, the method is generally not recommended for use unless several favorable conditions are met. These conditions are: the two parental populations are many phenotypic standard deviations apart, linkage is not tight, and the sample size is very large. An example is given on the fruit weight of tomato from a cross with parental populations differing in means by more than 14 phenotypic standard deviations. It is estimated that the number of loci which account for 95% of the genic variance in the F2 population is 16, with a 95% confidence interval of 7-28, and the effect of the leading locus is 13% of the parental difference, with 95% confidence interval 8.5-25.7%.
- Copyright © 1992 by the Genetics Society of America