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Effect of genomic selection and genotyping strategy on estimation of variance components in animal models using different relationship matrices

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BACKGROUND: The traditional way to estimate variance components (VC) is based on the animal model using a pedigree-based relationship matrix (A) (A-AM). After genomic selection was introduced into breeding programs, it was anticipated that VC estimates from A-AM would be biased because the effect of selection based on genomic information is not captured. The single-step method (H-AM), which uses an H matrix as (co)variance matrix, can be used as an alternative to estimate VC. Here, we compared VC estimates from A-AM and H-AM and investigated the effect of genomic selection, genotyping strategy and genotyping proportion on the estimation of VC from the two methods, by analyzing a dataset from a commercial broiler line and a simulated dataset that mimicked the broiler population.

RESULTS: VC estimates from H-AM were severely overestimated with a high proportion of selective genotyping, and overestimation increased as proportion of genotyping increased in the analysis of both commercial and simulated data. This bias in H-AM estimates arises when selective genotyping is used to construct the H-matrix, regardless of whether selective genotyping is applied or not in the selection process. For simulated populations under genomic selection, estimates of genetic variance from A-AM were also significantly overestimated when the effect of genomic selection was strong. Our results suggest that VC estimates from H-AM under random genotyping have the expected values. Predicted breeding values from H-AM were inflated when VC estimates were biased, and inflation differed between genotyped and ungenotyped animals, which can lead to suboptimal selection decisions.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that VC estimates from H-AM are biased with selective genotyping, but are close to expected values with random genotyping.VC estimates from A-AM in populations under genomic selection are also biased but to a much lesser degree. Therefore, we recommend the use of H-AM with random genotyping to estimate VC for populations under genomic selection. Our results indicate that it is still possible to use selective genotyping in selection, but then VC estimation should avoid the use of genotypes from one side only of the distribution of phenotypes. Hence, a dual genotyping strategy may be needed to address both selection and VC estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalGenetics, selection, evolution : GSE
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

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