Genome-enabled prediction of breeding values using high-density panels (HDP) can be highly accurate, even for young sires. However, the cost of the assay may limit its use to elite animals only. Low-density panels (LDP) containing a subset of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) may give reasonably accurate predictions and could be used cost-effectively with young males and females. This study evaluates strategies for selecting subsets of SNP for several traits, compares predictive ability of LDP with that of HDP, and assesses the benefits of including parent average (PA) as a predictor in models using LDP. Data consisting of progeny-test predicted transmitting ability (PTA) for net merit and 6 other traits of economic interest from 4,783 Holstein sires were evaluated using testing and training sets with regressions on their high-density genotypes and parent averages for net merit index. Additionally, SNP subsets of different sizes were selected using different strategies, including the "best" SNP based on the absolute values of their estimated effects from HDP models for either the trait itself or lifetime net merit, and evenly spaced (ES) SNP across the genome. Overall, HDP models had the best predictive ability, setting an upper bound for the predictive ability of LDP sets. Low-density panels targeting the SNP with strongest effects (for either a single trait or lifetime net merit) provided reasonably accurate predictions and generally outperformed predictions based on evenly spaced SNP. For example, evenly spaced sets would require at least 5,000 to 7,500 SNP to reach 95% of the predictive ability provided by HDP. On the other hand, this level of predictive ability can be achieved with sets of 2,000 SNP when SNP are selected based on magnitude of estimated effects for the trait. Accuracy of predictions based on LDP can be improved markedly by including parent average as a fixed effect in the model; for example, a set with the 1,000 best SNP using the parent average achieved the 95% of the accuracy of a HDP model.
Copyright © 2010 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.