Background: The purpose of this work was to study the impact of both the size of genomic reference populations and the inclusion of a residual polygenic effect on dairy cattle genetic evaluations enhanced with genomic information.
Methods: Direct genomic values were estimated for German Holstein cattle with a genomic BLUP model including a residual polygenic effect. A total of 17,429 genotyped Holstein bulls were evaluated using the phenotypes of 44 traits. The Interbull genomic validation test was implemented to investigate how the inclusion of a residual polygenic effect impacted genomic estimated breeding values.
Results: As the number of reference bulls increased, both the variance of the estimates of single nucleotide polymorphism effects and the reliability of the direct genomic values of selection candidates increased. Fitting a residual polygenic effect in the model resulted in less biased genome-enhanced breeding values and decreased the correlation between direct genomic values and estimated breeding values of sires in the reference population.
Conclusions: Genetic evaluation of dairy cattle enhanced with genomic information is highly effective in increasing reliability, as well as using large genomic reference populations. We found that fitting a residual polygenic effect reduced the bias in genome-enhanced breeding values, decreased the correlation between direct genomic values and sire's estimated breeding values and made genome-enhanced breeding values more consistent in mean and variance as is the case for pedigree-based estimated breeding values.
© 2011 Liu et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.