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Genomic selection

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Genomic selection is a form of marker-assisted selection in which genetic markers covering the whole genome are used so that all quantitative trait loci (QTL) are in linkage disequilibrium with at least one marker. This approach has become feasible thanks to the large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) discovered by genome sequencing and new methods to efficiently genotype large number of SNP. Simulation results and limited experimental results suggest that breeding values can be predicted with high accuracy using genetic markers alone but more validation is required especially in samples of the population different from that in which the effect of the markers was estimated. The ideal method to estimate the breeding value from genomic data is to calculate the conditional mean of the breeding value given the genotype of the animal at each QTL. This conditional mean can only be calculated by using a prior distribution of QTL effects so this should be part of the research carried out to implement genomic selection. In practice, this method of estimating breeding values is approximated by using the marker genotypes instead of the QTL genotypes but the ideal method is likely to be approached more closely as more sequence and SNP data is obtained. Implementation of genomic selection is likely to have major implications for genetic evaluation systems and for genetic improvement programmes generally and these are discussed.
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Keywords: genomic selection; linkage disequilibrium; prior distribution

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations:  Department of Primary Industries, Attwood, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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