The Mixed-Model Analysis of Variance Applied to Quantitative Genetics: Biological Meaning of the Parameters

  • Fry J
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The mixed-model factorial analysis of variance has been used in many recent studies in evolutionary quantitative genetics. Two competing formulations of the mixed-model ANOVA are commonly used, the "Scheffe" model and the 'SAS' model; these models differ in both their assumptions and in the way in which variance components due to the main effect of random factors are defined. The biological meanings of the two variance component definitions have often been unappreciated, however. A full understanding of these meanings leads to the conclusion that the mixed-model ANOVA could have been used to much greater effect by many recent authors. The variance component due to the random main effect under the two-way SAS model is the covariance in true means associated with a level of the random factor (e,g., families) across levels of the fixed factor (e.g., environments). Therefore the SAS model has a natural application for estimating the genetic correlation between a character expressed in different environments and testing whether it differs from zero. The variance component due to the random main effect under the two-way Scheffe model is the variance in marginal means (i.e., means over levels of the fixed factor) among levels of the random factor. Therefore the Scheffe model has a natural application for estimating genetic variances and heritabilities in populations using a defined mixture of environments. Procedures and assumptions necessary for these applications of the models are discussed. While exact significance tests under the SAS model require balanced data and the assumptions that family effects are normally distributed with equal variances in the different environments, the model can be useful even when these conditions are not met (e.g., for providing an unbiased estimate of the across-environment genetic covariance). Contrary to statements in a recent paper, exact significance tests regarding the variance in marginal means as well as unbiased estimates can be readily obtained from unbalanced designs with no restrictive assumptions about the distributions or variance-covariance structure of family effects.

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  • James D. Fry

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