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Theor Appl Genet. 2013 Nov;126(11):2907-20. doi: 10.1007/s00122-013-2182-x. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Selfing for the design of genomic selection experiments in biparental plant populations.

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Nature Source Genetics, 33 Thornwood Drive Suite 300, Ithaca, NY, 14850, USA,


Self-fertilization (selfing) is commonly used for population development in plant breeding, and it is well established that selfing increases genetic variance between lines, thus increasing response to phenotypic selection. Furthermore, numerous studies have explored how selfing can be deployed to maximal benefit in the context of traditional plant breeding programs (Cornish in Heredity 65:201-211,1990a, Heredity 65:213-220,1990b; Liu et al. in Theor Appl Genet 109:370-376, 2004; Pooni and Jinks in Heredity 54:255-260, 1985). However, the impact of selfing on response to genomic selection has not been explored. In the current study we examined how selfing impacts the two key aspects of genomic selection-GEBV prediction (training) and selection response. We reach the following conclusions: (1) On average, selfing increases genomic selection gains by more than 70 %. (2) The gains in genomic selection response attributable to selfing hold over a wide range population sizes (100-500), heritabilities (0.2-0.8), and selection intensities (0.01-0.1). However, the benefits of selfing are dramatically reduced as the number of QTLs drops below 20. (3) The major cause of the improved response to genomic selection with selfing is through an increase in the occurrence of superior genotypes and not through improved GEBV predictions. While performance of the training population improves with selfing (especially with low heritability and small population sizes), the magnitude of these improvements is relatively small compared with improvements observed in the selection population. To illustrate the value of these insights, we propose a practical genomic selection scheme that substantially shortens the number of generations required to fully capture the benefits of selfing. Specifically, we provide simulation evidence that indicates the proposed scheme matches or exceeds the selection gains observed in advanced populations (i.e. F 8 and doubled haploid) across a broad range of heritability and QTL models. Without sacrificing selection gains, we also predict that fully inbred candidates for potential commercialization can be identified as early as the F 4 generation.

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