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The number and mode of action of quantitative trait loci (QTL) that contribute to behavioral variation in rodents is still largely unknown. On theoretical grounds, multivariate techniques are expected to yield new insights into this problem, but there are only a few examples of its application in practice. Here we explore the power of multivariate approaches to uncover the genetic architecture of 23 anxiety-related phenotypes in 1636 F2 laboratory mice. We detected QTL with a genome-wide significance threshold of P < 0.05 on 14 chromosomes, of which 10 correspond to those identified by univariate analysis. Novel QTL were found on Chromosomes 3, 9, 13, and 17. Thus, multivariate analyses increased the yield of QTL exceeding a genome-wide significance threshold by 40%. On the basis of these results and by the application of a QTL estimator, we show that the mean number of QTL influencing anxiety-related behavior in mice is 6, with a 95% upper limit of 14.


Journal article


Mamm Genome

Publication Date





69 - 76


Animals, Anxiety, Chromosome Mapping, Mice, Multivariate Analysis, Quantitative Trait Loci