High-density genotyping: an overkill for QTL mapping? Lessons learned from a case study in maize and simulations

Theor Appl Genet. 2013 Oct;126(10):2563-74. doi: 10.1007/s00122-013-2155-0. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


High-density genotyping is extensively exploited in genome-wide association mapping studies and genomic selection in maize. By contrast, linkage mapping studies were until now mostly based on low-density genetic maps and theoretical results suggested this to be sufficient. This raises the question, if an increase in marker density would be an overkill for linkage mapping in biparental populations, or if important QTL mapping parameters would benefit from it. In this study, we addressed this question using experimental data and a simulation based on linkage maps with marker densities of 1, 2, and 5 cM. QTL mapping was performed for six diverse traits in a biparental population with 204 doubled haploid maize lines and in a simulation study with varying QTL effects and closely linked QTL for different population sizes. Our results showed that high-density maps neither improved the QTL detection power nor the predictive power for the proportion of explained genotypic variance. By contrast, the precision of QTL localization, the precision of effect estimates of detected QTL, especially for small and medium sized QTL, as well as the power to resolve closely linked QTL profited from an increase in marker density from 5 to 1 cM. In conclusion, the higher costs for high-density genotyping are compensated for by more precise estimates of parameters relevant for knowledge-based breeding, thus making an increase in marker density for linkage mapping attractive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genotyping Techniques / methods*
  • Lod Score
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers