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Comparing genomic prediction accuracy from purebred, crossbred and combined purebred and crossbred reference populations in sheep

Moghaddar, Nasir, Swan, Andrew A, van der Werf, Julius HJ
Genetics, selection, evolution 2014 v.46 no.1 pp. 58
Border Leicester, Merino, beef cattle, breeding value, correlation, crossbreds, gene frequency, haplotypes, phenotype, prediction, progeny, purebreds, sheep, single nucleotide polymorphism, sires
BACKGROUND: The accuracy of genomic prediction depends largely on the number of animals with phenotypes and genotypes. In some industries, such as sheep and beef cattle, data are often available from a mixture of breeds, multiple strains within a breed or from crossbred animals. The objective of this study was to compare the accuracy of genomic prediction for several economically important traits in sheep when using data from purebreds, crossbreds or a combination of those in a reference population. METHODS: The reference populations were purebred Merinos, crossbreds of Border Leicester (BL), Poll Dorset (PD) or White Suffolk (WS) with Merinos and combinations of purebred and crossbred animals. Genomic breeding values (GBV) were calculated based on genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP), using a genomic relationship matrix calculated based on 48 599 Ovine SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms) genotypes. The accuracy of GBV was assessed in a group of purebred industry sires based on the correlation coefficient between GBV and accurate estimated breeding values based on progeny records. RESULTS: The accuracy of GBV for Merino sires increased with a larger purebred Merino reference population, but decreased when a large purebred Merino reference population was augmented with records from crossbred animals. The GBV accuracy for BL, PD and WS breeds based on crossbred data was the same or tended to decrease when more purebred Merinos were added to the crossbred reference population. The prediction accuracy for a particular breed was close to zero when the reference population did not contain any haplotypes of the target breed, except for some low accuracies that were obtained when predicting PD from WS and vice versa. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that crossbred animals can be used for genomic prediction of purebred animals using 50 k SNP marker density and GBLUP, but crossbred data provided lower accuracy than purebred data. Including data from distant breeds in a reference population had a neutral to slightly negative effect on the accuracy of genomic prediction. Accounting for differences in marker allele frequencies between breeds had only a small effect on the accuracy of genomic prediction from crossbred or combined crossbred and purebred reference populations.