Genomic prediction of hybrid performance in maize with models incorporating dominance and population specific marker effects

Theor Appl Genet. 2012 Oct;125(6):1181-94. doi: 10.1007/s00122-012-1905-8. Epub 2012 Jun 26.


Identifying high performing hybrids is an essential part of every maize breeding program. Genomic prediction of maize hybrid performance allows to identify promising hybrids, when they themselves or other hybrids produced from their parents were not tested in field trials. Using simulations, we investigated the effects of marker density (10, 1, 0.3 marker per mega base pair, Mbp(-1)), convergent or divergent parental populations, number of parents tested in other combinations (2, 1, 0), genetic model (including population-specific and/or dominance marker effects or not), and estimation method (GBLUP or BayesB) on the prediction accuracy. We based our simulations on marker genotypes of Central European flint and dent inbred lines from an ongoing maize breeding program. To simulate convergent or divergent parent populations, we generated phenotypes by assigning QTL to markers with similar or very different allele frequencies in both pools, respectively. Prediction accuracies increased with marker density and number of parents tested and were higher under divergent compared with convergent parental populations. Modeling marker effects as population-specific slightly improved prediction accuracy under lower marker densities (1 and 0.3 Mbp(-1)). This indicated that modeling marker effects as population-specific will be most beneficial under low linkage disequilibrium. Incorporating dominance effects improved prediction accuracies considerably for convergent parent populations, where dominance results in major contributions of SCA effects to the genetic variance among inter-population hybrids. While the general trends regarding the effects of the aforementioned influence factors on prediction accuracy were similar for GBLUP and BayesB, the latter method produced significantly higher accuracies for models incorporating dominance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biometric Identification / methods
  • Breeding
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes, Dominant*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Genotype
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers