Accurate Genomic Predictions for Chronic Wasting Disease in U.S. White-Tailed Deer

G3 (Bethesda). 2020 Apr 9;10(4):1433-1441. doi: 10.1534/g3.119.401002.


The geographic expansion of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in U.S. white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has been largely unabated by best management practices, diagnostic surveillance, and depopulation of positive herds. Using a custom Affymetrix Axiom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, we demonstrate that both differential susceptibility to CWD, and natural variation in disease progression, are moderately to highly heritable ([Formula: see text] among farmed U.S. white-tailed deer, and that loci other than PRNP are involved. Genome-wide association analyses using 123,987 quality filtered SNPs for a geographically diverse cohort of 807 farmed U.S. white-tailed deer (n = 284 CWD positive; n = 523 CWD non-detect) confirmed the prion gene (PRNP; G96S) as a large-effect risk locus (P-value < 6.3E-11), as evidenced by the estimated proportion of phenotypic variance explained (PVE ≥ 0.05), but also demonstrated that more phenotypic variance was collectively explained by loci other than PRNP Genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP; n = 123,987 SNPs) with k-fold cross validation (k = 3; k = 5) and random sampling (n = 50 iterations) for the same cohort of 807 farmed U.S. white-tailed deer produced mean genomic prediction accuracies ≥ 0.81; thereby providing the necessary foundation for exploring a genomically-estimated CWD eradication program.

Keywords: chronic wasting disease; genome-wide association; genomic prediction; heritability; white-tailed deer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Deer* / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genomics
  • Prions* / genetics
  • Wasting Disease, Chronic* / genetics


  • Prions

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.xd2547dcw