Uncovering cryptic genetic variation
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Cryptic genetic variation is the dark matter of biology: it is variation that is not normally seen, but that might be an essential source of physiological and evolutionary potential. It is uncovered by environmental or genetic perturbations, and is thought to modify the penetrance of common diseases, the response of livestock and crops to artificial selection and the capacity of populations to respond to the emergence of a potentially advantageous macro-mutation. We argue in this review that cryptic genetic variation is pervasive but under-appreciated, we highlight recent progress in determining the nature and identity of genes that underlie cryptic genetic effects and we outline future research directions.
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