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BMC Genet. 2010 Apr 19;11:24. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-11-24.

Impact of reduced marker set estimation of genomic relationship matrices on genomic selection for feed efficiency in Angus cattle.

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Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211-5300, USA.



Molecular estimates of breeding value are expected to increase selection response due to improvements in the accuracy of selection and a reduction in generation interval, particularly for traits that are difficult or expensive to record or are measured late in life. Several statistical methods for incorporating molecular data into breeding value estimation have been proposed, however, most studies have utilized simulated data in which the generated linkage disequilibrium may not represent the targeted livestock population. A genomic relationship matrix was developed for 698 Angus steers and 1,707 Angus sires using 41,028 single nucleotide polymorphisms and breeding values were estimated using feed efficiency phenotypes (average daily feed intake, residual feed intake, and average daily gain) recorded on the steers. The number of SNPs needed to accurately estimate a genomic relationship matrix was evaluated in this population.


Results were compared to estimates produced from pedigree-based mixed model analysis of 862 Angus steers with 34,864 identified paternal relatives but no female ancestors. Estimates of additive genetic variance and breeding value accuracies were similar for AFI and RFI using the numerator and genomic relationship matrices despite fewer animals in the genomic analysis. Bootstrap analyses indicated that 2,500-10,000 markers are required for robust estimation of genomic relationship matrices in cattle.


This research shows that breeding values and their accuracies may be estimated for commercially important sires for traits recorded in experimental populations without the need for pedigree data to establish identity by descent between members of the commercial and experimental populations when at least 2,500 SNPs are available for the generation of a genomic relationship matrix.

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