Journal of Genetics

, Volume 90, Issue 1, pp 51–58 | Cite as

Estimating genetic correlations based on phenotypic data: a simulation-based method

Research Article


Knowledge of genetic correlations is essential to understand the joint evolution of traits through correlated responses to selection, a difficult and seldom, very precise task even with easy-to-breed species. Here, a simulation-based method to estimate genetic correlations and genetic covariances that relies only on phenotypic measurements is proposed. The method does not require any degree of relatedness in the sampled individuals. Extensive numerical results suggest that the propose method may provide relatively efficient estimates regardless of sample sizes and contributions from common environmental effects.


correlation genetics phenotype environment bias simulation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Becker W. A. 1984 Manual of quantitative genetics, 4th edition. Academic Enterprises, Pullman, USA.Google Scholar
  2. Cheverud J. M. 1988 A comparison of genetic and phenotypic correlations. Evolution 42, 958–968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cheverud J. M. 1995 Morphological integration in the saddle-back tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis) cranium. Am. Nat. 145, 63–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Coyne J. A. and Beecham E. 1987 Heritability of two morphological characters within and among natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 117, 727–737.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. David J. 1962 A new medium for rearing Drosophila in axenic conditions. Drosophila Inform. Ser. 36, 128.Google Scholar
  6. Efron B. and Tibshirani R. J. 1993 An introduction to the bootstrap. Chapman and Hall, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  7. Falconer D. S. and Mackay T. F. C. 1996 Introduction to quantitative genetics, 4th edition. Longman, Harlow, UK.Google Scholar
  8. Hill W. G. and Thompson R. 1978 Probabilities of non-positive definite between-group or genetic covariance matrices. Biometrics 34, 429–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kempthorne O. 1957 An introduction to genetic statistics. John Wiley, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  10. Kendall M. G. and Stuart A. 1951 The advanced theory of statistics. Hafner, London, UK.Google Scholar
  11. Laayouni H., Santos M. and Fontdevila A. 2000 Toward a physical map of Drosophila buzzatii: use of randomly amplified polymorphic DNA polymorphisms and sequence-tagged-site landmarks. Genetics 156, 1797–1816.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Lande R. 1979 Quantitative genetic analysis of multivariate evolution, applied to brain: body size allometry. Evolution 33, 402–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Leibowitz A., Santos M. and Fontdevila A. 1995 Heritability and selection on body size in a natural population of Drosophila buzzatii. Genetics 141, 181–189.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Loeschcke V., Bundgaard J. and Barker J. S. F. 1999 Reaction norms across and genetic parameters at different temperatures for thorax and wing size traits in Drosophila aldrichi and D. buzzatii. J. Evol. Biol. 12, 605–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lynch M. 1999 Estimating genetic correlations in natural populations. Genet. Res. 74, 255–264.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lynch M. and Walsh B. 1998 Genetics and analyses of quantitative traits. Sinauer, Sundrland, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Prout T. and Barker J. S. F. 1989 Ecological aspects of the heritability of body size in Drosophila buzzatii. Genetics 123, 803–813.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Riska B., Prout T. and Turelli M. 1989 Laboratory estimates of heritabilities and genetic correlations in nature. Genetics 123, 865–871.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Ritland K. 1996 A marker-based method for inferences about quantitative inheritance in natural populations. Evolution 50, 1062–1073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Roff D. A. 1995 The estimation of genetic correlations from phenotypic correlations: a test of Cheverud’s conjecture. Heredity 74, 481–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roff D. A. 1996 The evolution of genetic correlations: an analysis of patterns. Evolution 50, 1392–1403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ruiz A., Santos M., Barbadilla A., Quezada-Díaz J. E., Hasson E. and Fontdevila A. 1991 Genetic variance for body size in a natural population of Drosophila buzzatii. Genetics 128, 739–750.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Searle S. R., Casella G. and McCulloch C. E. 1992 Variance components. John Wiley, New York, USA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Weigensberg I. and Roff D. A. 1996 Natural heritabilities: can they be reliably estimated in the laboratory? Evolution 50, 2149–2157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Willis J. H., Coyne, J. A. and Kirkpatrick M. 1991 Can one predict the evolution of quantitative characters without genetics? Evolution 45, 441–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Young S. S. Y. and Weiler H. 1960 Selection for two correlated traits by independent culling levels. J. Genet. 57, 329–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiomathematicsUniversity of Thessaly School of MedicineBiopolisGreece
  2. 2.Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts Medical CenterTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations