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Weighted single-step genomic BLUP improves accuracy of genomic breeding values for protein content in French dairy goats: a quantitative trait influenced by a major gene

Teissier, Marc, Larroque, Hélène, Robert-Granié, Christèle
Genetics, selection, evolution 2018 v.50 no.1 pp. 31
Saanen, breeding value, casein, dairy goats, females, genetic variance, genetic variation, genomics, genotype, genotyping, major genes, marker-assisted selection, models, prediction, protein content, quantitative trait loci, quantitative traits, single nucleotide polymorphism, France
BACKGROUND: In 2017, genomic selection was implemented in French dairy goats using the single-step genomic best linear unbiased prediction (ssGBLUP) method, which assumes that all single nucleotide polymorphisms explain the same fraction of genetic variance. However, ssGBLUP is not suitable for protein content, which is controlled by a major gene, i.e. α ₛ ₁ casein. This gene explains about 40% of the genetic variation in protein content. In this study, we evaluated the accuracy of genomic prediction using different genomic methods to include the effect of the α ₛ ₁ casein gene. METHODS: Genomic evaluation for protein content was performed with data from the official genetic evaluation on 2955 animals genotyped with the Illumina goat SNP50 BeadChip, 7202 animals genotyped at the α ₛ ₁ casein gene and 6,767,490 phenotyped females. Pedigree-based BLUP was compared with regular unweighted ssGBLUP and with three weighted ssGBLUP methods (WssGBLUP, WssGBLUPMₐₓ and WssGBLUPSᵤₘ), which give weights to SNPs according to their effect on protein content. Two other methods were also used: trait-specific marker-derived relationship matrix (TABLUP) using pre-selected SNPs associated with protein content and gene content based on a multiple-trait genomic model that includes α ₛ ₁ casein genotypes. We estimated accuracies of predicted genomic estimated breeding values (GEBV) in two populations of goats (Alpine and Saanen). RESULTS: Accuracies of GEBV with ssGBLUP improved by + 5 to + 7 percent points over accuracies from the pedigree-based BLUP model. With the WssGBLUP methods, SNPs that are located close to the α ₛ ₁ casein gene had the biggest weights and contributed substantially to the capture of signals from quantitative trait loci. Improvement in accuracy of genomic predictions using the three weighted ssGBLUP methods delivered up to + 6 percent points of accuracy over ssGBLUP. A similar accuracy was obtained for ssGBLUP and TABLUP considering the 20,000 most important SNPs. Incorporating information on the α ₛ ₁ casein genotypes based on the gene content method gave similar results as ssGBLUP. CONCLUSIONS: The three weighted ssGBLUP methods were efficient for detecting SNPs associated with protein content and for a better prediction of genomic breeding values than ssGBLUP. They also combined fast computing, simplicity and required ssGBLUP to be run only twice.