Technical note: an R package for fitting generalized linear mixed models in animal breeding

J Anim Sci. 2010 Feb;88(2):497-504. doi: 10.2527/jas.2009-1952. Epub 2009 Oct 9.


Mixed models have been used extensively in quantitative genetics to study continuous and discrete traits. A standard quantitative genetic model proposes that the effects of levels of some random factor (e.g., sire) are correlated accordingly with their relationships. For this reason, routines for mixed models available in standard packages cannot be used for genetic analysis. The pedigreemm package of R was developed as an extension of the lme4 package, and allows mixed models with correlated random effects to be fitted for Gaussian, binary, and count responses. Following the method of Harville and Callanan (1989), a correlation between levels of the grouping factor (e.g., sire) is induced by post-multiplying the incidence matrix of the levels of this random factor by the Cholesky factor of the corresponding (co)variance matrix (e.g., the numerator relationship matrix between sires). Estimation methods available in pedigreemm include approximations to maximum likelihood and REML. This note describes the classes of models that can be fitted using pedigreemm and presents examples that illustrate its use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / genetics*
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Hybridization, Genetic / genetics
  • Inbreeding
  • Lactation / genetics
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype
  • Poisson Distribution