Genetics

Do These Genes Make Me Look Fat?

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Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 671
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.671-b

Deciphering the genetic predispositions behind complex traits can be difficult for many reasons, one of which may be variation in the genetic response to the environmental changes. To examine the effects of genes and environment, Reed et al. looked at the phenotypic response of body weight among multiple Drosophila lines in response to different diets (high-fat, low-calorie, high-sugar). They found that the variation in several metabolism-related traits, such as blood sugar and lipid storage levels, was driven more by interactions between the genetics of a line and the diet; not much of the variance could be explained by the differences in diet alone. In response to a high-fat diet, populations of flies showed an increase in the genetic variance, suggesting that there was a loss of robustness in the metabolic traits. These results suggest that in flies, gene-by-diet interactions are widespread and probably influence, perhaps rather strongly, their phenotypes.

Genetics 185, 10.1534/genetics.109.113571 (2010).

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