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Genet Sel Evol. 2007 Sep-Oct;39(5):495-511. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Factors influencing the efficiency of a marker-assisted introgression programme in Merino sheep.

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CSIRO Livestock Industries, Armidale, Australia - Australian Sheep Industry CRC, Armidale, Australia.


This study investigated a marker-assisted introgression programme in Australian Merino sheep. The goal was to introgress an allele with a large negative effect on fibre diameter into a Merino flock possessing medium average fibre diameter. The influence of two factors was explored: the strategy used to select animals from the purebred and backcross line for backcrossing purposes and the use of selection on background markers to accelerate the return to the purebred line's genome. The results were compared to introgression based on EBVs only. Introgression using EBVs only produced almost the same response in the dollar index as marker-based introgression methods. However, this study did not account for some of the costs associated with implementing the programmes, including the costs of phenotyping and genotyping. Given that the cost of measuring fibre diameter is low, it was concluded that introgression on EBVs only would be the preferred method since the marginal profit of marker-assisted introgression would not be large enough to cover the additional cost of genotyping. In marker-assisted introgression, reciprocal crossing of male and female selection candidates from the backcross and the purebred line was the most advantageous strategy from a practical and profit point of view. Selection for background markers was less profitable in this study than recovering the donor genome by selection on phenotype.

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