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Genetic and environmental influences on alcohol consumption among rhesus monkeys

dy demonstrates that additive genetic factors contribute to the observed inter-individual variation in the consumption of alcohol in rhesus," said Lorenz. The term "additive genetic factors" refers to that portion of total genetic effects that is solely due to the presence or absence of a gene's given alleles. For example, additive genetic variance accounts for the genetic component of resemblance or non-resemblance that may exist among relatives.

"Additive genetic effects account for 20 percent of the total variation, leaving 20 percent of the variance attributable to 'residual environmental effects' not accounted for by the experimental treatments and covariates identified in the study," said Lorenz.

In earlier research, Lorenz and his colleagues had discovered that early rearing experiences (mother- versus peer-reared) during the first several months of life among infant rhesus monkeys had later effects on alcohol consumption. "Two percent of the total variation in alcohol consumption depended on whether the monkeys had been reared by their mothers or not," he said, "with mother-reared animals drinking significantly less than others." This more recent study, added Lorenz, shows that this effect ?while statistically significant ?is much smaller than additive genetic effects.

"Identifying a genetic component to alcohol consumption in this important animal model is a precursor to searching for the specific regions of the genome for genes that influence alcohol consumption," said Lorenz. "Many of these linkage studies have been carried out in human groups, but there is always the problem of precise measurement of phenotype and controlling for environmental variation in human studies ?which is not as great an issue in animal studies."


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Source:Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research


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