Genomic Breeding Programs Realize Larger Benefits by Cooperation in the Presence of Genotype × Environment Interaction Than Conventional Breeding Programs

Lu Cao, Huiming Liu, Han A. Mulder, Mark Henryon, Jørn Rind Thomasen, Morten Kargo, Anders Christian Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Genotype × environment interaction (G × E) is of increasing importance for dairy cattle breeders due to international multiple-environment selection of animals as well as the differentiation of production environments within countries. This theoretical simulation study tested the hypothesis that genomic selection (GS) breeding programs realize larger genetic benefits by cooperation in the presence of G × E than conventional pedigree-based selection (PS) breeding programs. We simulated two breeding programs each with their own cattle population and environment. Two populations had either equal or unequal population sizes. Selection of sires was done either across environments (cooperative) or within their own environment (independent). Four scenarios, (GS/PS) × (cooperative/independent), were performed. The genetic correlation (rg) between the single breeding goal trait expressed in two environments was varied between 0.5 and 0.9. We compared scenarios for genetic gain, rate of inbreeding, proportion of selected external sires, and the split-point rg that is the lowest value of rg for long-term cooperation. Between two equal-sized populations, cooperative GS breeding programs achieved a maximum increase of 19.3% in genetic gain and a maximum reduction of 24.4% in rate of inbreeding compared to independent GS breeding programs. The increase in genetic gain and the reduction in rate of inbreeding realized by GS breeding programs with cooperation were respectively at maximum 9.7% and 24.7% higher than those realized by PS breeding programs with cooperation. Secondly, cooperative GS breeding programs allowed a slightly lower split-point rg than cooperative PS breeding programs (0.85∼0.875 vs ≥ 0.9). Between two unequal-sized populations, cooperative GS breeding programs realized higher increase in genetic gain and showed greater probability for long-term cooperation than cooperative PS breeding programs. Secondly, cooperation using GS were more beneficial to the small population while also beneficial but much less to the large population. In summary, by cooperation in the presence of G × E, GS breeding programs realize larger improvements in terms of the genetic gain and rate of inbreeding, and have greater possibility of long-term cooperation than conventional PS breeding programs. Therefore, we recommend cooperative GS breeding programs in situations with mild to moderate G × E, depending on the sizes of two populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number251
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2020

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