The new generation 3G mobile phones are great. They have so many functions and uses from GPS and games to Internet and e-mail to the point that one sometimes forgets what their primary function at the first place was. Until you should make the important call and battery has gone flat from all surfing.
Genomewide association studies, QTL- and genomescan approaches have been subject to lot of hype during the past few years. One could legitimately ask what have they actually yielded? Sometimes enormously, such as in identifying genes and pathways for diseases, sometimes much less, as in the case of explaining the genetic basis of human body size (=stature) for instance.
The heritability of human stature is very high, roughly 80-90%. In other words, if the tallest and shortest 5% fractions of the population are separated from each others by 29 cm, then genetic differences account for 27 of them.
Large genomewide association studies have found some 40 genetic factors associated with these height differences, but they account together for some 5% of the variation in stature. That equals to some 2 cm in the calculations above. That is not much. Where are the factors explaining the missing 95% of the variance? Nobody seems to know.
Read the thought provoking ‘news feature’ from Nature by Brend Maher about the statue puzzle. It might even give some (quantum of?) solace for those sticking with their parent-offspring regressions and tedious experiments while the others in their spotless labcoats are drowning in their high throughput data.
Maher B (2008) The case of missing heritability. Nature 456:18-21.