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BMC Genet. 2018 Jan 5;19(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s12863-017-0595-2.

High density marker panels, SNPs prioritizing and accuracy of genomic selection.

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Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.
Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.
Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.
Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.



The availability of high-density (HD) marker panels, genome wide variants and sequence data creates an unprecedented opportunity to dissect the genetic basis of complex traits, enhance genomic selection (GS) and identify causal variants of disease. The disproportional increase in the number of parameters in the genetic association model compared to the number of phenotypes has led to further deterioration in statistical power and an increase in co-linearity and false positive rates. At best, HD panels do not significantly improve GS accuracy and, at worst, reduce accuracy. This is true for both regression and variance component approaches. To remedy this situation, some form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) filtering or external information is needed. Current methods for prioritizing SNP markers (i.e. BayesB, BayesCπ) are sensitive to the increased co-linearity in HD panels which could limit their performance.


In this study, the usefulness of FST, a measure of allele frequency variation among populations, as an external source of information in GS was evaluated. A simulation was carried out for a trait with heritability of 0.4. Data was divided into three subpopulations based on phenotype distribution (bottom 5%, middle 90%, top 5%). Marker data were simulated to mimic a 770 K and 1.5 million SNP marker panel. A ten-chromosome genome with 200 K and 400 K SNPs was simulated. Several scenarios with varying distributions for the quantitative trait loci (QTL) effects were simulated. Using all 200 K markers and no filtering, the accuracy of genomic prediction was 0.77. When marker effects were simulated from a gamma distribution, SNPs pre-selected based on the 99.5, 99.0 and 97.5% quantile of the FST score distribution resulted in an accuracy of 0.725, 0.797, and 0.853, respectively. Similar results were observed under other simulation scenarios. Clearly, the accuracy obtained using all SNPs can be easily achieved using only 0.5 to 1% of all markers.


These results indicate that SNP filtering using already available external information could increase the accuracy of GS. This is especially important as next-generation sequencing technology becomes more affordable and accessible to human, animal and plant applications.


Genomic selection; High density; SNP prioritizing

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