Complex Human Phenotypes: The Interplay between Genes and Environment
Pp. 106-137 (32)
Mar Fatjo-Vilas and Barbara Arias
Genetic epidemiology is the discipline that studies the role of genetic and
environmental factors in the origin of complex traits, behaviors and diseases. The major
focus of genetic epidemiology is the analysis of the relative contribution of genes,
environment and their interplay in human traits. Among others, twin studies have
become an important tool to disentangle the different roles of genes and environment
and to estimate heritability. Within the genetic epidemiology, the ecogenetics study the
relationship between genetic and environmental factors and seek to understand both the
vulnerability of different genotypes present in the population facing the same
environmental risk factors (gene-environment interaction, GxE) and the influence of
the individual's own genotype in the search of specific environments and/or risk factors
(gene-environment correlation, rGE). There are numerous studies from quantitative
genetics and molecular genetics that describe such GxE and rGE effects on the etiology
of complex traits and disorders. However, it is important to consider the
methodological requirements and limitations associated with these studies.
Undoubtedly one of the challenges of genetic epidemiology in the coming years will
be to combine the gene-environment studies (based on specific assumptions) with the
huge amount of genomic data provided by new molecular approaches.
Antisocial behaviour, Cannabis use, Childhood maltreatment,
Complex traits, Environment, Friendship, Genes, Gene-environment correlation,
Gene-environment interaction, Heritability, Obesity, Schizophrenia, Twins.
Unitat d`Antropologia, Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciencies Ambientals. Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona. Av. Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.