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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Accuracy of direct genomic breeding values for nationally evaluated traits in US Limousin and Simmental beef cattle

Mahdi Saatchi1, Robert D Schnabel2, Megan M Rolf2, Jeremy F Taylor2* and Dorian J Garrick13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

2 Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA

3 Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Genetics Selection Evolution 2012, 44:38  doi:10.1186/1297-9686-44-38

Published: 7 December 2012

Abstract

Background

In national evaluations, direct genomic breeding values can be considered as correlated traits to those for which phenotypes are available for traditional estimation of breeding values. For this purpose, estimates of the accuracy of direct genomic breeding values expressed as genetic correlations between traits and their respective direct genomic breeding values are required.

Methods

We derived direct genomic breeding values for 2239 registered Limousin and 2703 registered Simmental beef cattle genotyped with either the Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip or the Illumina BovineHD BeadChip. For the 264 Simmental animals that were genotyped with the BovineHD BeadChip, genotypes for markers present on the BovineSNP50 BeadChip were extracted. Deregressed estimated breeding values were used as observations in weighted analyses that estimated marker effects to derive direct genomic breeding values for each breed. For each breed, genotyped individuals were clustered into five groups using K-means clustering, with the aim of increasing within-group and decreasing between-group pedigree relationships. Cross-validation was performed five times for each breed, using four groups for training and the fifth group for validation. For each trait, we then applied a weighted bivariate analysis of the direct genomic breeding values of genotyped animals from all five validation sets and their corresponding deregressed estimated breeding values to estimate variance and covariance components.

Results

After minimizing relationships between training and validation groups, estimated genetic correlations between each trait and its direct genomic breeding values ranged from 0.39 to 0.76 in Limousin and from 0.29 to 0.65 in Simmental. The efficiency of selection based on direct genomic breeding values relative to selection based on parent average information ranged from 0.68 to 1.28 in genotyped Limousin and from 0.51 to 1.44 in genotyped Simmental animals. The efficiencies were higher for 323 non-genotyped young Simmental animals, born after January 2012, and ranged from 0.60 to 2.04.

Conclusions

Direct genomic breeding values show promise for routine use by Limousin and Simmental breeders to improve the accuracy of predicted genetic merit of their animals at a young age and increase response to selection. Benefits from selecting on direct genomic breeding values are greater for breeders who use natural mating sires in their herds than for those who use artificial insemination sires. Producers with unregistered commercial Limousin and Simmental cattle could also benefit from being able to identify genetically superior animals in their herds, an opportunity that has in the past been limited to seed stock animals.