• Open Access

Genomics of complex traits


James E. Womack, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology-Mail Stop 4467, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4467. jwomack@cvm.tamu.edu


The analysis of complex genetic traits, including mapping and identification of causative genes, has long been an enigma of genetic biology, whether in the animal sciences or in medical sciences. Traits of agricultural interest and traits of medical interest are often under the influence of both environmental factors and multiple genes, each with modest contributions to the total variance in the trait. Although the number of known mutations underlying complex traits is still relatively small, advances in genomics have greatly enhanced traditional pathways to their analysis and gene mining. The candidate gene approach, linkage analysis, and association studies are all significantly more powerful with recent advances in genome mapping, sequencing, and analysis of individual variation. Avenues to gene discovery are discussed with emphasis on genome wide association studies (GWAS) and the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as revealed by increasingly powerful commercially available microarrays.