The first attempts of applying marker-assisted selection (MAS) in animal breeding were not very successful because the identification of markers closely linked to QTL using low-density microsat-ellite panels was difficult. More recently, the use of high-density SNP panels in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have increased the power and precision of identifying markers linked to QTL, which offer new possibilities for MAS. However, when GWAS started to be performed, the focus of many breeders had already shifted from the use of MAS to the application of genomic selection (using all available markers without any preselection of markers linked to QTL). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the prediction accuracy of a MAS approach that accounts for GWAS findings in the prediction models by including the most significant SNP from GWAS as a fixed effect in the marker-assisted BLUP (MA-BLUP) and marker-assisted genomic BLUP (MA-GBLUP) prediction models. A second aim was to compare the prediction accuracies from the marker-assisted models with those obtained from a Bayesian variable selection (BVS) model. To compare the prediction accuracies of traditional BLUP, MA-BLUP, genomic BLUP (GBLUP), MA-GBLUP, and BVS, we applied these models to the trait “number of teats” in 4 distinct pig populations, for validation of the results. The most significant SNP in each population was located at approximately 103.50 Mb on chromosome 7. Applying MAS by accounting for the most significant SNP in the prediction models resulted in improved prediction accuracy for number of teats in all evaluated populations compared with BLUP and GBLUP. Using MA-BLUP instead of BLUP, the increase in prediction accuracy ranged from 0.021 to 0.124, whereas using MA-GBLUP instead of GBLUP, the increase in prediction accuracy ranged from 0.003 to 0.043. The BVS model resulted in similar or higher prediction accuracies than MA-GBLUP. For the trait number of teats, BLUP resulted in the lowest prediction accuracies whereas the highest were observed when applying MA-GBLUP or BVS. In the same data set, MA-BLUP can yield similar or superior accuracies compared with GBLUP. The superiority of MA-GBLUP over traditional GBLUP is more pronounced when training populations are smaller and when relationships between training and validation populations are smaller. Marker-assisted GBLUP did not outperform BVS but does have implementation advantages in large-scale evaluations.
- Bayesian variable selection
- Genome-wide association study
- Genomic selection
- Marker-assisted selection