Gene–environment interdependence


Address for correspondence: Michael Rutter, PO 80, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK; e-mail:


Behavioural genetics was initially concerned with partitioning population variance into that due to genetics and that due to environmental influences. The implication was that the two were separate and it was assumed that gene–environment interactions were usually of so little importance that they could safely be ignored. Theoretical considerations suggested that that was unlikely to be true and empirical findings are now accumulating on the demonstrated and replicated biological interactions between identified common single genetic variants and the operation of environmentally mediated risks. The paper outlines the evidence and considers why it is changing concepts in ways that matter.