Tread lightly interpreting polygenic tests of selection Journal Article

Author(s): Novembre, John; Barton, Nicholas H
Article Title: Tread lightly interpreting polygenic tests of selection
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: In this issue of GENETICS, a new method for detecting natural selection on polygenic traits is developed and applied to sev- eral human examples ( Racimo et al. 2018 ). By de fi nition, many loci contribute to variation in polygenic traits, and a challenge for evolutionary ge neticists has been that these traits can evolve by small, nearly undetectable shifts in allele frequencies across each of many, typically unknown, loci. Recently, a helpful remedy has arisen. Genome-wide associ- ation studies (GWAS) have been illuminating sets of loci that can be interrogated jointly for c hanges in allele frequencies. By aggregating small signal s of change across many such loci, directional natural selection is now in principle detect- able using genetic data, even for highly polygenic traits. This is an exciting arena of progress – with these methods, tests can be made for selection associated with traits, and we can now study selection in what may be its most prevalent mode. The continuing fast pace of GWAS publications suggest there will be many more polygenic tests of selection in the near future, as every new GWAS is an opportunity for an accom- panying test of polygenic selection. However, it is important to be aware of complications th at arise in interpretation, especially given that these studies may easily be misinter- preted both in and outside the evolutionary genetics commu- nity. Here, we provide context for understanding polygenic tests and urge caution regarding how these results are inter- preted and reported upon more broadly.
Journal Title: Genetics
Volume: 208
Issue 4
ISSN: 0016-6731
Publisher: Genetics Society of America  
Date Published: 2018-04-01
Start Page: 1351
End Page: 1355
DOI: 10.1534/genetics.118.300786
Open access: yes (OA journal)