Genomic selection: prediction of accuracy and maximisation of long term response

Genetica. 2009 Jun;136(2):245-57. doi: 10.1007/s10709-008-9308-0. Epub 2008 Aug 14.


Genomic selection refers to the use of dense markers covering the whole genome to estimate the breeding value of selection candidates for a quantitative trait. This paper considers prediction of breeding value based on a linear combination of the markers. In this case the best estimate of each marker's effect is the expectation of the effect conditional on the data. To calculate this requires a prior distribution of marker effects. If the marker effects are normally distributed with constant variance, BLUP can be used to calculate the estimated effects of the markers and hence the estimated breeding value (EBV). In this case the model is equivalent to a conventional animal model in which the relationship matrix among the animals is estimated from the markers instead of the pedigree. The accuracy of the EBV can approach 1.0 but a very large amount of data is required. An alternative model was investigated in which only some markers have non-zero effects and these effects follow a reflected exponential distribution. In this case the expected effect of a marker is a non-linear function of the data such that apparently small effects are regressed back almost to zero and consequently these markers can be deleted from the model. The accuracy in this case is considerably higher than when marker effects are normally distributed. If genomic selection is practiced for several generations the response declines in a manner that can be predicted from the marker allele frequencies. Genomic selection is likely to lead to a more rapid decline in the selection response than phenotypic selection unless new markers are continually added to the prediction of breeding value. A method to find the optimum index to maximise long term selection response is derived. This index varies the weight given to a marker according to its frequency such that markers where the favourable allele has low frequency receive more weight in the index.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Genetic Markers