Genetic analysis of tolerance to infections using random regressions: a simulation study

A. Kause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Tolerance to infections is the ability of a host to limit the impact of a given pathogen burden on host performance. This simulation study demonstrated the merit of using random regressions to estimate unbiased genetic variances for tolerance slope and its genetic correlations with other traits, which could not be obtained using the previously implemented statistical methods. Genetic variance in tolerance was estimated as genetic variance in regression slopes of host performance along an increasing pathogen burden level. Random regressions combined with covariance functions allowed genetic variance for host performance to be estimated at any point along the pathogen burden trajectory, providing a novel means to analyse infection-induced changes in genetic variation of host performance. Yet, the results implied that decreasing family size as well as a non-zero environmental or genetic correlation between initial host performance before infection and pathogen burden led to biased estimates for tolerance genetic variance. In both cases, genetic correlation between tolerance slope and host performance in a pathogen-free environment became artificially negative, implying a genetic trade-off when it did not exist. Moreover, recording a normally distributed pathogen burden as a threshold trait is not a realistic way of obtaining unbiased estimates for tolerance genetic variance. The results show that random regressions are suitable for the genetic analysis of tolerance, given suitable data structure collected either under field or experimental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-302
JournalGenetics Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • environment interaction
  • rainbow-trout
  • oncorhynchus-mykiss
  • natural enemies
  • reaction norms
  • growth-rates
  • resistance
  • selection
  • genotype
  • parameters

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