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Epigenetics and phenotypic variation in mammals

Authors
  • Peaston, Anne E.1, 2
  • Whitelaw, Emma3
  • 1 The University of Sydney, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, New South Wales, 2006, Australia , New South Wales (Australia)
  • 2 The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME, 04609, USA , Bar Harbor (United States)
  • 3 Royal Brisbane Hospital, Division of Population Studies and Human Genetics, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Queensland, 4029, Australia , Queensland (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Mammalian Genome
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
May 01, 2006
Volume
17
Issue
5
Pages
365–374
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00335-005-0180-2
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

What causes phenotypic variation? By now it is clear that phenotype is a result of the interaction between genotype and environment, in addition to variation not readily attributable to either. Epigenetic phenomena associated with phenotypic variation at the biochemical, cellular, tissue, and organism level are now well recognized and are likely to contribute to the “intangible variation” alluded to. While it is clear that epigenetic modifications are mitotically heritable, the fidelity of this process is not well understood. Inheritance through more than one generation of meioses is even less well studied. So it remains unclear to what extent epigenetic changes contribute to phenotypic variation in natural populations. How might such evidence be obtained? What are the features of phenotypes that might suggest an epigenetic component? How much of the epigenetic component is truly independent of genetic changes? The answers to such questions must come from studies designed specifically to detect subtle, stochastically determined phenotypic variation in suitable animal models.

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