Effect of enlarging the reference population with (un)genotyped animals on the accuracy of genomic selection in dairy cattle

J Dairy Sci. 2011 Jan;94(1):431-41. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2840.


Genomic selection (GS) permits accurate breeding values to be obtained for young animals, shortening the generation interval and accelerating the genetic gain, thereby leading to reduced costs for proven bulls. Genotyping a large number of animals using high-density single nucleotide polymorphism marker arrays is nevertheless expensive, and therefore, a method to reduce the costs of GS is desired. The aim of this study was to investigate an influence of enlarging the reference population, with either genotyped animals or individuals with predicted genotypes, on the accuracy of genomic estimated breeding values. A dairy cattle population was simulated in which proven bulls with 100 daughters were used as a reference population for GS. Phenotypic records were simulated for bulls with heritability equal to the reliability of daughter yield deviations based on 100 daughters. The simulated traits represented heritabilities at the level of individual daughter performance of 0.3, 0.05, and 0.01. Three scenarios were considered in which (1) the reference population consisted of 1,000 genotyped animals, (2) 1,000 ungenotyped animals were added to the reference population, and (3) the 1,000 animals added in scenario 2 were genotyped in addition to the 1,000 animals from scenario 1. Genotypes for ungenotyped animals were predicted with an average accuracy of 0.58. Additionally, an adjustment of the diagonal elements of the G matrix was proposed for animals with predicted genotypes. The accuracy of genomic estimated breeding values for juvenile animals was the highest for the scenario with 2,000 genotyped animals, being 0.90, 0.79, and 0.60 for the heritabilities of 0.3, 0.05, and 0.01, respectively. Accuracies did not differ significantly between the scenario with 1,000 genotyped animals only and the scenario in which 1,000 ungenotyped animals were added and the adjustment of the G matrix was applied. The absence of significant increase in the accuracy of genomic estimated breeding values was attributed to the low accuracy of predicted genotypes. Although the differences were not significant, the difference between scenario 1 and 2 increased with decreasing heritability. Without the adjustment of the diagonal elements of the G matrix, accuracy decreased. Results suggest that inclusion of ungenotyped animals is only expected to enhance the accuracy of GS when the unknown genotypes can be predicted with high accuracy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Genome*
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Selection, Genetic*