Breeding programs for different species aim to improve performance by testing members of full-sib (FS) and half-sib (HS) families in different environments. When genotypes respond differently to changes in the environment, this is defined as genotype by environment (G × E) interaction. The presence of common environmental effects within families generates covariance between siblings, and these effects should be taken into account when estimating a genetic correlation. Therefore, an optimal design should be established to accurately estimate the genetic correlation between environments in the presence of common environmental effects. We used stochastic simulation to find the optimal population structure using a combination of FS and HS groups with different levels of common environmental effects. Results show that in a population with a constant population size of 2,000 individuals per environment, ignoring common environmental effects when they are present in the population will lead to an upward bias in the estimated genetic correlation of on average 0.3 when the true genetic correlation is 0.5. When no common environmental effects are present in the population, the lowest standard error (SE) of the estimated genetic correlation was observed with a mating ratio of one dam per sire, and 10 offspring per sire per environment. When common environmental effects are present in the population and are included in the model, the lowest SE is obtained with mating ratios of at least 5 dams per sire and with a minimum number of 10 offspring per sire per environment. We recommend that studies that aim to estimate the magnitude of G × E in pigs, chicken, and fish should acknowledge the potential presence of common environmental effects and adjust the mating ratio accordingly.
- breeding programs
- genetic correlation
- genotype by environment interaction
- population structure