, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 225-237
Date: 24 Aug 2011

The Impact of Gene–Environment Interaction and Correlation on the Interpretation of Heritability

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Abstract

The presence of gene–environment statistical interaction (GxE) and correlation (rGE) in biological development has led both practitioners and philosophers of science to question the legitimacy of heritability estimates. The paper offers a novel approach to assess the impact of GxE and rGE on the way genetic and environmental causation can be partitioned. A probabilistic framework is developed, based on a quantitative genetic model that incorporates GxE and rGE, offering a rigorous way of interpreting heritability estimates. Specifically, given an estimate of heritability and the variance components associated with estimates of GxE and rGE, I arrive at a probabilistic account of the relative effect of genes and environment.