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J Anim Breed Genet. 2013 Feb;130(1):20-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0388.2013.01001.x.

Comparison of heritabilities of dairy traits in Australian Holstein-Friesian cattle from genomic and pedigree data and implications for genomic evaluations.

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Bioscience Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, Bundoora, Vic, Australia.


The reliability of genomic evaluations depends on the proportion of genetic variation explained by the DNA markers. In this study, we have estimated the proportion of variance in daughter trait deviations (DTDs) of dairy bulls explained by 45 993 genome wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for 29 traits in Australian Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle. We compare these proportions to the proportion of variance in DTDs explained by the additive relationship matrix derived from the pedigree, as well as the sum of variance explained by both pedigree and marker information when these were fitted simultaneously. The proportion of genetic variance in DTDs relative to the total genetic variance (the total genetic variance explained by the genomic relationships and pedigree relationships when both were fitted simultaneously) varied from 32% for fertility to approximately 80% for milk yield traits. When fitting genomic and pedigree relationships simultaneously, the variance unexplained (i.e. the residual variance) in DTDs of the total variance for most traits was reduced compared to fitting either individually, suggesting that there is not complete overlap between the effects. The proportion of genetic variance accounted by the genomic relationships can be used to modify the blending equations used to calculate genomic estimated breeding value (GEBV) from direct genomic breeding value (DGV) and parent average. Our results, from a validation population of young dairy bulls with DTD, suggest that this modification can improve the reliability of GEBV by up to 5%.

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