QTLcart - A rudimentary front end for the QTL Cartographer system.


QTLcart[ -h ] [ -V ] [ -A ] [ -s seed ]
[ -W workdir ] [ -X stem ]
[ -e logfile ] [ -R resource ]


QTLcart exists but does nothing at this time. It is intended to be the front end to a set of programs collectively known as QTL Cartographer. This man page explains the options that are valid in all the programs of the QTL Cartographer suite. It also outlines how to get started using the programs.


The following options can be used with any of the programs in the QTL Cartographer suite.

Prints out the current values of all program options, and information on what the program does. It then exits.

Turns the verbosity mode off. The programs in the suite print out messages while running. This option turns off those messages. This is useful for batch files.

Skips the interactive screen for setting options. All programs start up with a menu that allows setting of options. This turns the menu off. It is also very useful for batch files.

The programs will read the default parameters from a file specified with this option. If a file called qtlcart.rc is in the current working directory, it will be opened by default and all parameter values read. If no such file exists, then default parameter values will be assumed, and the file will be created.

It is probably better to simply rename a resource file qtlcart.rc than to use this option.

This option allows one to set the work directory. This directory must exist. All the input files must be in this directory and the output files will be placed there.

This requires a long integer to act as the random number seed. By default, it is the value returned by the ANSI C function time(), which is usually the number of seconds since some arbitrary past date (often 1 January 1970). This number will also be used as a unique identifer on the first line of the output file.

This can be a useful option. It is recorded in the log file when any program is run. It is possible to recreate exactly what was done using the log file.

This requires a filename for the log file. It will be appended to if it exists and created if not. The default is qtlcart.log.

Give a filename stem. All output will start with this stem and have extensions indicating what is in them.

Is a debugging option. It can be followed by a number to indicate the level of debugging output. For example, -D0 indicates no debugging output and is the default. -D1 and -D2 will cause some of the programs to output extra information to the log file. -D3 will cause the programs to create a file memacct.txt and record all allocation and deallocation of memory.


For all the following examples, assume that QTLCart is just a wildcard for any of the programs in the suite.

        % QTLcart -R resource.file

QTLcart will read option values from the file resource.file. The other programs do this, and except for Preplot, will regenerate the file upon exit.

        % QTLcart -X corn

Will set the filename stem to corn. The output files will then have names beginning with corn and logical extensions. For example, the map file will be placed in corn.map and the file containing the data from a cross will be in corn.cro. Filenaming conventions should follow the old DOS 8+3 rule due to historical reasons.


All the parameters for QTLcart are also parameters for the other programs in the QTL Cartographer system.


All the programs in the QTL Cartographer suite behave in the same general way. They were originally UNIX programs and can be run as such (using command line options). More recently, we have added an interactive menu that allows the user to set parameters. Once inside any of the programs, all the parameters of the program are displayed with their current values. The user chooses whichever parameter he or she wishes to change by selecting a number. The menu is in a loop. Choosing 0 will end the loop and proceed with the current parameter values.

The menu is also where one can get online help. Online help will be a numbered option in the list of parameters. Choose it and specify the location of the help file if the program couldn't find it.

When the programs begin to run, they will print out their parameter values to a log file (qtlcart.log by default).

Here is an example of the Rcross menu:

  No.          Options                                    Values:
   0. Continue with these parameters
   1. Input File                                                     
   2. Output File                                         qtlcart.cro
   3. Error File                                          qtlcart.log
   4. Genetic Linkage Map File                            qtlcart.map
   5. QTL Data File                                       qtlcart.qtl
   6. Random Number Seed                                  1014739725 
   7. Output format (0,1,2)                               0          
   8. Cross (1,2,3) => (B1,B2,F2)                         B1         
   9. Heritability                                        0.500000   
  10. Replications (Not yet active)                       0          
  11. Interactive Crosses? (0,1) => (no,yes)              0          
  12. Environmental Variance (used if > 0)                -1.000000  
  13. Sample Size                                         200        
  14. Specify Resource File                               qtlcart.rc 
  15. Change Filename stem                                qtlcart    
  16. Change Working Directory: 
  17. Quit
  18. Quit, but update the Resource File
      Please enter a number...

This menu is in a loop. To change a parameter, select its number and press return. You will be prompted for a new value or filename. You can clear out a filename or working directory by inputting a single period (.). When satisfied that the parameters are set correctly, you can select 0 to run the program. If you want to quit without changing the resource file, simply select 17. Selecting 18 will update the resource file with any parameter changes you have made.

Each program will have a different number of parameters, thus the last five options may not have the same numbering as in the Rcross example above. In addition, Rmap, Rqtl and Rcross have options that only make sense if you are simulating data. These options disappear if you set an input file to translate and thus the last five options are renumbered.


The resource file keeps track of the most current parameter values used in the programs. Each time the user runs a program, the program accepts new values for parameters and writes them to the resource file. This is unlike the log file which keeps track of the parameters used at the time of running each program. The resource file that is generated by the programs in the suite is self documenting. Look in the qtlcart.rc file.


You can specify a working directory (or folder) with the -W option. This directory (folder) must exist prior to running any of the programs. The directory can be relative or complete, and should have the standard directory delimiter appended to it. For example

        -W /home/user/qtlcart/work/

would use /home/user/qtlcart/work as the working directory. All input and ouput files would have to be in this directory. For a Windows system, the line might be

        -W c:\qtlcart\work\

whereas a Macintosh would require

        -W HardDrive:qtlcart:work:

The equivalent line in the resource file would have -workdir instead of just -W.

In UNIX, you can set a path variable pointing to the programs and simply set your current working directory to the working directory. For Mac, you double click the icons and should use a working directory variable. Relative paths are also possible. For example, if the programs reside in a bin folder in the qtlcart folder on a Macintosh, then you can have a data folder in the qtlcart folder and use

        -W ::data:

as the working directory. The two colons mean go up one level and then go into the data folder.

On a Windows system, you can either open a command window and type in commands as you would under UNIX, or double click program icons as you would on a Macintosh. If you use the Macintosh mode, then you will need to set a working directory as the resource file is saved in the same directory where the binaries reside. If you use the command line mode, then you should have the binary directory in the PATH variable so that you can run the programs in the working directory and not have to set that variable.

Newer versions of the Macintosh have UNIX underneath the windowing system. QTL Cartographer can be compiled and used in the UNIX enviroment on the Macintosh as under any UNIX system. You will need to get the developer package and install it on your Macintosh to do this.


The filename stem is an important concept in the usage of this package. Beginning with version 1.12, the programs utilize the filename stem qtlcart. All files are then named using this stem and filename extensions relevant to the filetype. For example, if the -X option is followed by corn, then when new files are created, they will have the stem corn followed by a logical extension. An example would be corn.map for a genetic linkage map. With some practice, you will be able to know the contents of a file by its extension.


For now it is best to use the individual programs rather than the front end. If you have no data, then you would use the programs in the following order:

  1. Rmap, to create a random map of markers.

  2. Rqtl, to generate a random genetic model for the map.

  3. Rcross, to create a random cross.

  4. LRmapqtl, to do a simple linear regression of the data on the markers.

  5. SRmapqtl, to do a stepwise linear regression of the data on the markers to rank the markers.

  6. Zmapqtl, to do interval or composite interval mapping.

  7. Preplot, to reformat the output of the analysis for GNUPLOT.

  8. GNUPLOT, to see the results graphically.

If you have data, then you might use the programs in the following order:

  1. Rmap, to reformat the output of MAPMAKER or a standard input file.

  2. Rcross, to reformat your data.

  3. Qstats, to summarize missing data and calculate some basic statistics on your quantitative traits.

  4. LRmapqtl, to do a simple linear regression of the data on the markers.

  5. SRmapqtl, to do a stepwise linear regression of the data on the markers to rank the markers. This should be run with model 2.

  6. Zmapqtl, to do interval or composite interval mapping. This should be run twice, once with model 3 and a second time with model 6.

  7. Preplot, to reformat the output of the analysis for Gnuplot.

  8. GNUPLOT, to see the results graphically.

We recommend that the new user tries a simulation to gain an understanding of the programs


  1. T. Williams and C. Kelley (1993) GNUPLOT: An Interactive Plotting Program. Version 3.5


Many UNIX systems have been known to get upset when trying to run the QTL Cartographer programs from out of the front end. It has something to do with the memory management. Try running the individual programs one by one. A good test is to simply run each program without changing any parameters.


Emap(1), Rmap(1), Rqtl(1), Rcross(1), Qstats(1), LRmapqtl(1), BTmapqtl(1), SRmapqtl(1), JZmapqtl(1), Eqtl(1), Prune(1), Preplot(1), MImapqtl(1), MultiRegress(1), Examples(1) SSupdate.pl(1), Prepraw.pl(1), EWThreshold.pl(1), GetMaxLR.pl(1), Permute.pl(1), Vert.pl(1), CWTupdate.pl(1), Ztrim.pl(1), SRcompare.pl(1), Ttransform.pl(1), TestExamples.pl(1), Model8.pl(1), Dobasics.pl(1), Bootstrap.pl(1)


In general, it is best to contact us via email (basten@statgen.ncsu.edu)

        Christopher J. Basten, B. S. Weir and Z.-B. Zeng
        Bioinformatics Research Center, North Carolina State University
        1523 Partners II Building/840 Main Campus Drive
        Raleigh, NC 27695-7566     USA
        Phone: (919)515-1934

Please report all bugs via email to qtlcart-bug@statgen.ncsu.edu.

The QTL Cartographer web site ( http://statgen.ncsu.edu/qtlcart ) has links to the manual, man pages, ftp server and supplemental materials.

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