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Genet Sel Evol. 2015 Aug 14;47:65. doi: 10.1186/s12711-015-0145-1.

Reliability of pedigree-based and genomic evaluations in selected populations.

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The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, Scotland, UK.
Wageningen University, Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, Scotland, UK.



Reliability is an important parameter in breeding. It measures the precision of estimated breeding values (EBV) and, thus, potential response to selection on those EBV. The precision of EBV is commonly measured by relating the prediction error variance (PEV) of EBV to the base population additive genetic variance (base PEV reliability), while the potential for response to selection is commonly measured by the squared correlation between the EBV and breeding values (BV) on selection candidates (reliability of selection). While these two measures are equivalent for unselected populations, they are not equivalent for selected populations. The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of selection on these two measures of reliability and to show how this affects comparison of breeding programs using pedigree-based or genomic evaluations.


Two scenarios with random and best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) selection were simulated, where the EBV of selection candidates were estimated using only pedigree, pedigree and phenotype, genome-wide marker genotypes and phenotype, or only genome-wide marker genotypes. The base PEV reliabilities of these EBV were compared to the corresponding reliabilities of selection. Realized genetic selection intensity was evaluated to quantify the potential of selection on the different types of EBV and, thus, to validate differences in reliabilities. Finally, the contribution of different underlying processes to changes in additive genetic variance and reliabilities was quantified.


The simulations showed that, for selected populations, the base PEV reliability substantially overestimates the reliability of selection of EBV that are mainly based on old information from the parental generation, as is the case with pedigree-based prediction. Selection on such EBV gave very low realized genetic selection intensities, confirming the overestimation and importance of genotyping both male and female selection candidates. The two measures of reliability matched when the reductions in additive genetic variance due to the Bulmer effect, selection, and inbreeding were taken into account.


For populations under selection, EBV based on genome-wide information are more valuable than suggested by the comparison of the base PEV reliabilities between the different types of EBV. This implies that genome-wide marker information is undervalued for selected populations and that genotyping un-phenotyped female selection candidates should be reconsidered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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