Quantitative trait loci for growth and body size in the nine-spined stickleback Pungitius pungitius L.



Body size is an ecologically important trait shown to be genetically variable both within and among different animal populations as revealed by quantitative genetic studies. However, few studies have looked into underlying genetic architecture of body size variability in the wild using genetic mapping methods. With the aid of quantitative trait loci (QTL) analyses based on 226 microsatellite markers, we mapped body size and growth rate traits in the nine-spined stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) using an F2-intercross (n = 283 offspring) between size-divergent populations. In total, 17 QTL locations were detected. The proportion of phenotypic variation explained by individual body size-related QTL ranged from 3% to 12% and those related to growth parameters and increments from 3% to 10%. Several of the detected QTL affected either early or late growth. These results provide a solid starting point for more in depth investigations of structure and function of genomic regions involved in determination of body size in this popular model of ecological and evolutionary research.