Whether in natural populations or between two unrelated members of a species, most phenotypic variation is quantitative. To analyze such quantitative traits, one must first map the underlying quantitative trait loci. Next, and far more difficult, one must identify the quantitative trait genes (QTGs), characterize QTG interactions, and identify the phenotypically relevant polymorphisms to determine how QTGs contribute to phenotype. In this work, we analyzed three Saccharomyces cerevisiae high-temperature growth (Htg) QTGs (MKT1, END3, and RHO2). We observed a high level of genetic interactions among QTGs and strain background. Interestingly, while the MKT1 and END3 coding polymorphisms contribute to phenotype, it is the RHO2 3'UTR polymorphisms that are phenotypically relevant. Reciprocal hemizygosity analysis of the Htg QTGs in hybrids between S288c and ten unrelated S. cerevisiae strains reveals that the contributions of the Htg QTGs are not conserved in nine other hybrids, which has implications for QTG identification by marker-trait association. Our findings demonstrate the variety and complexity of QTG contributions to phenotype, the impact of genetic background, and the value of quantitative genetic studies in S. cerevisiae.
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