Attempts to standardize the test environment can help improve reproducibility across laboratories, but are not a panacea. Some caveats to enforced standardization of conditions ranging from husbandry to apparatus and protocols should be considered. First, use of a single set of standard conditions could lead to false-negative conclusions. For example, if the effect of a genetically engineered null mutation is not apparent under the standard conditions, and every laboratory adopts them, a real gene effect could be missed. Second, a good deal of time could be wasted exploring apparent gene effects that actually only occur in the standard conditions. Finally, failure to explore a range of environmental conditions may underestimate the actual genetic influence, which is very likely to be expressed as GXE interaction.


These studies were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIAAA and NIDA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


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