Genomic prediction in a nuclear population of layers using single-step models

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Single-step genomic prediction method has been proposed to improve the accuracy of genomic prediction by incorporating information of both genotyped and ungenotyped animals. The objective of this study is to compare the prediction performance of single-step model with a 2-step models and the pedigree-based models in a nuclear population of layers. A total of 1,344 chickens across 4 generations were genotyped by a 600 K SNP chip. Four traits were analyzed, i.e., body weight at 28 wk (BW28), egg weight at 28 wk (EW28), laying rate at 38 wk (LR38), and Haugh unit at 36 wk (HU36). In predicting offsprings, individuals from generation 1 to 3 were used as training data and females from generation 4 were used as validation set. The accuracies of predicted breeding values by pedigree BLUP (PBLUP), genomic BLUP (GBLUP), SSGBLUP and single-step blending (SSBlending) were compared for both genotyped and ungenotyped individuals. For genotyped females, GBLUP performed no better than PBLUP because of the small size of training data, while the 2 single-step models predicted more accurately than the PBLUP model. The average predictive ability of SSGBLUP and SSBlending were 16.0% and 10.8% higher than the PBLUP model across traits, respectively. Furthermore, the predictive abilities for ungenotyped individuals were also enhanced. The average improvements of prediction abilities were 5.9% and 1.5% for SSGBLUP and SSBlending model, respectively. It was concluded that single-step models, especially the SSGBLUP model, can yield more accurate prediction of genetic merits and are preferable for practical implementation of genomic selection in layers.

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