Photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg

Surprising Findings in Genetic Research

Two mathematicians of the University of Mannheim have found out that wrong genetic factors were possibly used in the past in agricultural plant breeding as well as in the treatment of certain medical conditions.

Many things in life depend not only on environmental factors, but also on genetic factors: how tall a person will become, their predisposition to fall ill, how resistant crops are against droughts or pests, or how much milk a cow can produce. But how high exactly is the impact genes have on these traits in proportion to other factors? Mathematicians Dr. Nicholas Schreck and Prof. Martin Schlather, who work for the chair of Applied Stochastics at the University of Mannheim, dedicated an interdisciplinary research project to this question in cooperation with Prof. Hans-Peter Piepho, biostatistician from the University of Hohenheim.

The findings, which were published in the renowned scientific journal Genetics, were surprising, and could have far-reaching consequences. They show that a significant number of the most widely used procedures to determine genetic variance have systematic errors. The three scientists have therefore developed a new procedural model destined to rectify these errors. First comparisons between the procedures have shown considerable differences.

Original publication:

Nicholas Schreck, Hans-Peter Piepho and Martin Schlather (2019). Best Prediction of the Additive Genomic Variance in Random-Effects Models. Genetics.