Open Access

A simulation study on the accuracy of position and effect estimates of linked QTL and their asymptotic standard deviations using multiple interval mapping in an F2 scheme

Genetics Selection Evolution200436:455

Received: 4 August 2003

Accepted: 22 March 2004

Published: 15 July 2004


Approaches like multiple interval mapping using a multiple-QTL model for simultaneously mapping QTL can aid the identification of multiple QTL, improve the precision of estimating QTL positions and effects, and are able to identify patterns and individual elements of QTL epistasis. Because of the statistical problems in analytically deriving the standard errors and the distributional form of the estimates and because the use of resampling techniques is not feasible for several linked QTL, there is the need to perform large-scale simulation studies in order to evaluate the accuracy of multiple interval mapping for linked QTL and to assess confidence intervals based on the standard statistical theory. From our simulation study it can be concluded that in comparison with a monogenetic background a reliable and accurate estimation of QTL positions and QTL effects of multiple QTL in a linkage group requires much more information from the data. The reduction of the marker interval size from 10 cM to 5 cM led to a higher power in QTL detection and to a remarkable improvement of the QTL position as well as the QTL effect estimates. This is different from the findings for (single) interval mapping. The empirical standard deviations of the genetic effect estimates were generally large and they were the largest for the epistatic effects. These of the dominance effects were larger than those of the additive effects. The asymptotic standard deviation of the position estimates was not a good criterion for the accuracy of the position estimates and confidence intervals based on the standard statistical theory had a clearly smaller empirical coverage probability as compared to the nominal probability. Furthermore the asymptotic standard deviation of the additive, dominance and epistatic effects did not reflect the empirical standard deviations of the estimates very well, when the relative QTL variance was smaller/equal to 0.5. The implications of the above findings are discussed.


mapping QTL simulation asymptotic standard error confidence interval

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Authors’ Affiliations

Research Unit Genetics and Biometry, Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals
Centre of the Genetic Improvement of Livestock, University of Guelph


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004