Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics of Genomic Imprinting

Eleanor K O'Brien, Jason B Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)


Genomic imprinting shapes the genotype-phenotype relationship by creating an asymmetry between the influences of paternally and maternally inherited gene copies. Consequently, imprinting can impact heritable and nonheritable variation, resemblance of relatives, and evolutionary dynamics. Although previous analyses have identified some of the quantitative genetic consequences of imprinting, we lack a framework that cleanly separates the influence of imprinting from other components of variation, particularly dominance. Here we apply a simple orthogonal genetic model to evaluate the roles of genetic (additive and dominance) and epigenetic (imprinting) effects. Imprinting increases the resemblance of relatives who share the expressed allele, and therefore increases variance among families of full or half-siblings. However, only part of this increased variance is heritable and contributes to selection responses. When selection is within or among families sharing only a single parent (half-siblings), which is common in selective breeding programs, imprinting can alter overall responses. Selection is more efficient when it acts among families sharing the expressed parent, or within families sharing the parent with lower expression. Imprinting also affects responses to sex-specific selection. When selection is on the sex whose gene copy has lower expression, the response is diminished or delayed the next generation, although the long-term response is unaffected. Our findings have significant implications for understanding patterns of variation, interpretation of short-term selection responses, and the efficacy of selective breeding programs, demonstrating the importance of considering the independent influence of genomic imprinting in quantitative genetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 by the Genetics Society of America.


  • Breeding values
  • Epigenetic variation
  • Parent-of-origin effects
  • Resemblance of relatives
  • Selection response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics of Genomic Imprinting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this