Genetics Research

Research Papers

From Galton to GWAS: quantitative genetics of human height

PETER M. VISSCHERa1 c1, BRIAN McEVOYa1 and JIAN YANGa1

a1 Queensland Statistical Genetics Laboratory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane 4006, Australia

Summary

Height has been studied in human genetics since the late 1800s. We review what we have learned about the genetic architecture of this trait from the resemblance between relatives and from genetic marker data. All empirical evidence points towards height being highly polygenic, with many loci contributing to variation in the population and most effect sizes appear to be small. Nevertheless, combining new genetic and genomic technologies with phenotypic measures on height on large samples facilitates new answers to old questions, including the basis of assortative mating in humans, estimation of non-additive genetic variation and partitioning between-cohort phenotypic differences into genetic and non-genetic underlying causes.

(Received October 12 2010)

(Revised November 08 2010)

(Online publication March 23 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author. Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane 4006, Australia. e-mail: Peter.visscher@qimr.edu.au

Metrics