Map-based cloning has been considered problematic for isolating quantitative trait loci (QTLs) due to the confounding phenotypic effects of environment and other QTLs. However, five recent studies, all in plants, have succeeded in cloning QTLs using map-based methods. We review the important features of these studies and evaluate the prospects for broader application of the techniques. Successful map-based cloning requires that QTLs represent single genes that can be isolated in near-isogenic lines, and that genotypes can be unambiguously inferred by progeny testing. In plants or animals for which map-based cloning of genes with discrete phenotypes is feasible, the modified procedures required for QTLs should not be limiting in most cases. The choice between map-based cloning and alternative methods will depend on details of the species and traits being studied.
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