Genomic prediction for numerically small breeds, using models with pre-selected and differentially weighted markers

Biaty Raymond*, Aniek C. Bouwman, Yvonne C.J. Wientjes, Chris Schrooten, Jeanine Houwing-Duistermaat, Roel F. Veerkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Genomic prediction (GP) accuracy in numerically small breeds is limited by the small size of the reference population. Our objective was to test a multi-breed multiple genomic relationship matrices (GRM) GP model (MBMG) that weighs pre-selected markers separately, uses the remaining markers to explain the remaining genetic variance that can be explained by markers, and weighs information of breeds in the reference population by their genetic correlation with the validation breed. Methods: Genotype and phenotype data were used on 595 Jersey bulls from New Zealand and 5503 Holstein bulls from the Netherlands, all with deregressed proofs for stature. Different sets of markers were used, containing either pre-selected markers from a meta-genome-wide association analysis on stature, remaining markers or both. We implemented a multi-breed bivariate GREML model in which we fitted either a single multi-breed GRM (MBSG), or two distinct multi-breed GRM (MBMG), one made with pre-selected markers and the other with remaining markers. Accuracies of predicting stature for Jersey individuals using the multi-breed models (Holstein and Jersey combined reference population) was compared to those obtained using either the Jersey (within-breed) or Holstein (across-breed) reference population. All the models were subsequently fitted in the analysis of simulated phenotypes, with a simulated genetic correlation between breeds of 1, 0.5, and 0.25. Results: The MBMG model always gave better prediction accuracies for stature compared to MBSG, within-, and across-breed GP models. For example, with MBSG, accuracies obtained by fitting 48,912 unselected markers (0.43), 357 pre-selected markers (0.38) or a combination of both (0.43), were lower than accuracies obtained by fitting pre-selected and unselected markers in separate GRM in MBMG (0.49). This improvement was further confirmed by results from a simulation study, with MBMG performing on average 23% better than MBSG with all markers fitted. Conclusions: With the MBMG model, it is possible to use information from numerically large breeds to improve prediction accuracy of numerically small breeds. The superiority of MBMG is mainly due to its ability to use information on pre-selected markers, explain the remaining genetic variance and weigh information from a different breed by the genetic correlation between breeds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2018

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