Reliability of genomic prediction for German Holsteins using imputed genotypes from low-density chips

J Dairy Sci. 2012 Sep;95(9):5403-5411. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-5466.


With the availability of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker chips, such as the Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip (50K), genomic evaluation has been routinely implemented in dairy cattle breeding. However, for an average dairy producer, total costs associated with the 50K chip are still too high to have all the cows genotyped and genomically evaluated. To study the accuracy of cheaper low-density chips, genotypes were simulated for 2 low-density chips, the Illumina Bovine3K BeadChip (3K) and BovineLD BeadChip (6K), according to their original marker maps. Simulated missing genotypes of the 50K chip were imputed using the programs Beagle and Findhap. Three genotype data sets were used to study imputation accuracy: the EuroGenomics data set, with 14,405 reference bulls (data set I); the smaller EuroGenomics data set, with 11,670 older reference bulls (data set II); and the data set of all genotyped German Holsteins, with 31,597 reference animals (data set III). Imputed genotypes were compared with their original ones to calculate allele error rate for validation animals in the 3 data sets. To evaluate the loss in accuracy of genomic prediction when using imputed genotypes, a genomic evaluation was conducted only for EuroGenomics data set II. Furthermore, combined genome-enhanced breeding values calculated from the original and imputed genotypes were compared. Allele error rate for EuroGenomics data set II was highest for the Findhap program on the 3K chip (3.3%) and lowest for the Beagle program on the 6K chip (0.6%). Across the data sets, Beagle was shown to be about 2 times as accurate as Findhap. Compared with the real 50K genotypes, the reduction in reliability of the genomic prediction when using the imputed genotypes was highest for Findhap on the 3K chip (5.3%) and lowest for Beagle on the 6K chip (1%) when averaged over the 12 evaluated traits. Differences in genome-enhanced breeding values of the original and imputed genotypes were largest for Findhap on the 3K chip, whereas Beagle on the 6K chip had the smallest difference. The low-density chip, 6K, gave markedly higher imputation accuracy and more accurate genomic prediction than the 3K chip. On the basis of the relatively small reduction in accuracy of genomic prediction, we would recommend the BovineLD 6K chip for large-scale genotyping as long as its costs are acceptable to breeders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / methods
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / standards
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / veterinary*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Reproducibility of Results