Family and twin studies suggest that a substantial genetic component underlies individual differences in craniofacial morphology. In the current study, we quantified 444 craniofacial traits in 100 individuals from two inbred medaka (Oryzias latipes) strains, HNI and Hd-rR. Relative distances between defined landmarks were measured in digital images of the medaka head region. A total of 379 traits differed significantly between the two strains, indicating that many craniofacial traits are controlled by genetic factors. Of these, 89 traits were analyzed via interval mapping of 184 F2 progeny from an intercross between HNI and Hd-rR. We identified quantitative trait loci for 66 craniofacial traits. The highest logarithm of the odds score was 6.2 for linkage group (LG) 9 and 11. Trait L33, which corresponds to the ratio of head length to head height at eye level, mapped to LG9; trait V15, which corresponds to the ratio of snout length to head width measured behind the eyes, mapped to LG11. Our initial results confirm the potential of the medaka as a model system for the genetic analysis of complex traits such as craniofacial morphology.
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