Background: The combination of optimized contribution dynamic selection and various mating schemes was investigated over seven generations for a typical tree breeding scenario. The allocation of mates was optimized using a simulated annealing algorithm for various object functions including random mating (RM), positive assortative mating (PAM) and minimization of pair-wise coancestry between mates (MCM) all combined with minimization of variance in family size and coancestry. The present study considered two levels of heritability (0.05 and 0.25), two restrictions on relatedness (group coancestry; 1 and 2%) and two maximum permissible numbers of crosses in each generation (100 and 400). The infinitesimal genetic model was used to simulate the genetic architecture of the trait that was the subject of selection. A framework of the long term genetic contribution of ancestors was used to examine the impacts of the mating schemes on population parameters.
Results: MCM schemes produced on average, an increased rate of genetic gain in the breeding population, although the difference between schemes was small but significant after seven generations (up to 7.1% more than obtained with RM). In addition, MCM reduced the level of inbreeding by as much as 37% compared with RM, although the rate of inbreeding was similar after three generations of selection. PAM schemes yielded levels of genetic gain similar to those produced by RM, but the increase in the level of inbreeding was substantial (up to 43%).
Conclusion: The main reason why MCM schemes yielded higher genetic gains was the improvement in managing the long term genetic contribution of founders in the population; this was achieved by connecting unrelated families. In addition, the accumulation of inbreeding was reduced by MCM schemes since the variance in long term genetic contributions of founders was smaller than in the other schemes. Consequently, by combining an MCM scheme with an algorithm that optimizes contributions of the selected individuals, a higher long term response is obtained while reducing the risk within the breeding program.