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Genomic Selection for Maternal Traits

5 January 2012, at 12:00am

According to Norwegian researchers, genomic selection increases genetic gain for traits that are measured on females, which includes several traits with economic importance in maternal pig breeds, and genotyping females is essential to obtain a high accuracy of selection.

Marie Lillehammer of Nofima in Norway and co-authors there and at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås published their findings on genomic selection for maternal traits in pigs in Journal of Animal Science in December. They explain in the paper that the aim of their study was to compare alternative designs for implementation of genomic selection to improve maternal traits in pigs, with a conventional breeding scheme and a progeny testing scheme.

The comparison was done through stochastic simulation of a pig population. It was assumed that selection was performed based on a trait that could be measured on females after the first litter, with a heritability of 0.1.

Genomic selection increased genetic gain and reduced the rate of inbreeding, compared with conventional selection without progeny testing. Progeny testing could also increase genetic gain and decrease the rate of inbreeding, but because of the increased generation interval, the increase in annual genetic gain was only seven per cent. When genomic selection was applied, genetic gain was increased by 23 to 91 per cent, depending on which and how many animals were genotyped.

Genotyping dams in addition to the male selection candidates gave increased accuracy of the genomic breeding values, increased genetic gain and decreased rate of inbreeding.

To genotype two or three males from each litter, in order to perform within-litter selection, increased genetic gain by eight to 12 per cent, compared with schemes with the same number of genotyped females but only one male candidate per litter.

Comparing schemes with the same total number of genotyped animals revealed that genotyping more females caused a greater increase in genetic gain than genotyping more males because greater accuracy of selection was more advantageous than increasing the number of male selection candidates. When more than one male per litter was genotyped, and thereby included as selection candidates, rate of inbreeding increased because of co-selection of full sibs.

Lillehammer and co-authors conclude that genomic selection can increase genetic gain for traits that are measured on females, which includes several traits with economic importance in maternal pig breeds. They added that genotyping females is essential to obtain a high accuracy of selection.

Reference

Lillehammer M., T.H.E. Meuwissen and A.K. Sonesson. 2011. Genomic selection for maternal traits in pigs. J. Anim. Sci., 89 (12): 3908-3916. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4044

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.


January 2012