Theoretical models of selection and mutation on quantitative traits

Toby Johnson, Nick Barton


Empirical studies of quantitative genetic variation have revealed robust patterns that are observed both across traits and across species. However, these patterns have no compelling explanation, and some of the observations even appear to be mutually incompatible. We review and extend a major class of theoretical models, ‘mutation–selection models’, that have been proposed to explain quantitative genetic variation. We also briefly review an alternative class of ‘balancing selection models’. We consider to what extent the models are compatible with the general observations, and argue that a key issue is understanding and modelling pleiotropy. We discuss some of the thorny issues that arise when formulating models that describe many traits simultaneously.


  • One contribution of 16 to a Theme Issue ‘Population genetics, quantitative genetics and animal improvement: papers in honour of William (Bill) Hill’.

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