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We compare the power of two different approaches to detect passive genotype–environment (GE) covariance originating from cultural and genetic transmission operating simultaneously. In the traditional nuclear twin family (NTF) design, cultural transmission is estimated from the phenotypic covariance matrices of the mono- and dizygotic twins and their parents. Here, phenotyping is required in all family members. A more recent method is the transmitted–nontransmitted (T–NT) allele design, which exploits measured genetic variants in parents and offspring to test for effects of nontransmitted alleles from parents. This design requires two-generation genome-wide data and a powerful genome-wide association study (GWAS) for the phenotype in addition to phenotyping in offspring. We compared the power of both designs. Using exact data simulation, we demonstrate three points: how the power of the T–NT design depends on the predictive power of polygenic risk scores (PRSs); that when the NTF design can be applied, its power to detect cultural transmission and GE covariance is high relative to T–NT; and that, given effect sizes from contemporary GWAS, adding PRSs to the NTF design does not yield an appreciable increase in the power to detect cultural transmission. However, it may be difficult to collect phenotypes of parents and the possible importance of gene × age interaction, and secular generational effects can cause complications for many important phenotypes. The T–NT design avoids these complications.
The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) is a national register in which twins, multiples and their parents, siblings, spouses and other family members participate. Here we describe the NTR resources that were created from more than 30 years of data collections; the development and maintenance of the newly developed database systems, and the possibilities these resources create for future research. Since the early 1980s, the NTR has enrolled around 120,000 twins and a roughly equal number of their relatives. The majority of twin families have participated in survey studies, and subsamples took part in biomaterial collection (e.g., DNA) and dedicated projects, for example, for neuropsychological, biomarker and behavioral traits. The recruitment into the NTR is all inclusive without any restrictions on enrollment. These resources — the longitudinal phenotyping, the extended pedigree structures and the multigeneration genotyping — allow for future twin-family research that will contribute to gene discovery, causality modeling, and studies of genetic and cultural inheritance.
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