On flexible finite polygenic models for multiple-trait evaluation

Genet Res. 2002 Dec;80(3):245-56. doi: 10.1017/s0016672302005906.


Finite polygenic models (FPM) might be an alternative to the infinitesimal model (TIM) for the genetic evaluation of pedigreed multiple-generation populations for multiple quantitative traits. I present a general flexible Bayesian method that includes the number of genes in the FPM as an additional random variable. Markov-chain Monte Carlo techniques such as Gibbs sampling and the reversible jump sampler are used for implementation. Sampling of genotypes of all genes in the FPM is done via the use of segregation indicators. A broad range of FPM models, some combined with TIM, are empirically tested for the estimation of variance components and the number of genes in the FPM. Four simulation scenarios were studied, including genetic models with 5 or 50 additive independent diallelic genes affecting the traits, and random selection or selection on one of the traits was performed. The results in this study were based on ten replicates per simulation scenario. In the case of random selection, uniform priors on additive gene effects led to posterior mean estimates of genetic variance that were positively correlated with the number of genes fitted in the FPM. In the case of trait selection, assuming normal priors on gene effects also led to genetic variance estimates for the selected trait that were negatively correlated with the number of genes in the FPM. This negative correlation was not observed for the unselected trait. Treating the number of genes in the FPM as random revealed a positive correlation between prior and posterior mean estimates of this number, but the prior hardly affected the posterior estimates of genetic variance. Posterior inferences about the number of genes should be considered to be indicative where trait selection seems to improve the power of distinguishing between TIM and FPM. Based on the results of this study, I suggest not replacing TIM by the FPM, but combining TIM and FPM with the number of genes treated as random, to facilitate a highly flexible and thereby robust method for variance component estimation in pedigreed populations. Further study is required to explore the full potential of these models under different genetic model assumptions.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Multifactorial Inheritance*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable