Novel approach to incorporate information about recessive lethal genes increases the accuracy of genomic prediction for mortality traits

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The genetic underpinnings of calf mortality can be partly polygenic and partly due to deleterious effects of recessive lethal alleles. Prediction of the genetic merits of selection candidates should thus take into account both genetic components contributing to calf mortality. However, simultaneously modeling polygenic risk and recessive lethal allele effects in genomic prediction is challenging due to effects that behave differently. In this study, we present a novel approach where mortality risk probabilities from polygenic and lethal allele components are predicted separately to compute the total risk probability of an individual for its future offspring as a basis for selection. We present methods for transforming genomic estimated breeding values of polygenic effect into risk probabilities using normal density and cumulative distribution functions and show computations of risk probability from recessive lethal alleles given sire genotypes and population recessive allele frequencies. Simulated data were used to test the novel approach as implemented in probit, logit, and linear models. In the simulation study, the accuracy of predicted risk probabilities was computed as the correlation between predicted mortality probabilities and observed calf mortality for validation sires. The results indicate that our novel approach can greatly increase the accuracy of selection for mortality traits compared with the accuracy of predictions obtained without distinguishing polygenic and lethal gene effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-166
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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