Use of linked loci as individuals or haplotypes for marker-assisted breed assignment

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SummaryThe objective of this study was to use simulation to evaluate the benefits of considering haplotypes of loci when linked single nucleotide polymorphisms are used for breed assignment. Three breeds of 10 000 females each were simulated under eight scenarios that differed according to the number of generations separating the breeds, size of breed founder populations and recombination rate between linked loci. Molecular genotypes consisted of 20 groups of three linked loci each. Breed assignment was performed in the final generation and was based on the frequency method. Haplotypes were reconstructed using the expectation–maximization algorithm. Accuracy of breed assignment was based on the frequency of correct breed assignment. Assignment accuracy increased as more genotypes (loci or haplotypes) were considered and more animals were used to estimate genotypic frequencies within breed. For most scenarios, use of haplotypes yielded equal or greater accuracies than when loci were considered independent. The advantage of haplotypes tended to increase as linkage disequilibrium between adjacent loci increased. The greatest advantage for using haplotypes was observed when recombination rate was low (0.001), breeds were separated by few generations (100), and a relatively large number of founder animals (110) was used to form new breeds. In this situation, 90% accuracy of breed assignment was achieved using nine to 14 haplotypes (i.e. 27–42 loci) depending on breed, vs. 39–57 individual loci.

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