Application of Genomics Tools to Animal Breeding


Abstract: The main goal in animal breeding is to select individuals that have high breeding values for traits of interest as parents to produce the next generation and to do so as quickly as possible. To date, most programs rely on statistical analysis of large data bases with phenotypes on breeding populations by linear mixed model methodology to estimate breeding values on selection candidates. However, there is a long history of research on the use of genetic markers to identify quantitative trait loci and their use in marker-assisted selection but with limited implementation in practical breeding programs. The advent of high-density SNP genotyping, combined with novel statistical methods for the use of this data to estimate breeding values, has resulted in the recent extensive application of genomic or whole-genome selection in dairy cattle and research to implement genomic selection in other livestock species is underway. The high-density SNP data also provides opportunities to detect QTL and to encover the genetic architecture of quantitative traits, in terms of the distribution of the size of genetic effects that contribute to trait differences in a population. Results show that this genetic architecture differs between traits but that for most traits, over 50 % of the genetic variation resides in genomic regions with small effects that are of the order of magnitude that is expected under a highly polygenic model of inheritance

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