Bayesian estimation of genetic parameters for multivariate threshold and continuous phenotypes and molecular genetic data in simulated horse populations using Gibbs sampling

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Background Requirements for successful implementation of multivariate animal threshold models including phenotypic and genotypic information are not known yet. Here simulated horse data were used to investigate the properties of multivariate estimators of genetic parameters for categorical, continuous and molecular genetic data in the context of important radiological health traits using mixed linear-threshold animal models via Gibbs sampling. The simulated pedigree comprised 7 generations and 40000 animals per generation. Additive genetic values, residuals and fixed effects for one continuous trait and liabilities of four binary traits were simulated, resembling situations encountered in the Warmblood horse. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) effects and genetic marker information were simulated for one of the liabilities. Different scenarios with respect to recombination rate between genetic markers and QTL and polymorphism information content of genetic markers were studied. For each scenario ten replicates were sampled from the simulated population, and within each replicate six different datasets differing in number and distribution of animals with trait records and availability of genetic marker information were generated. (Co)Variance components were estimated using a Bayesian mixed linear-threshold animal model via Gibbs sampling. Residual variances were fixed to zero and a proper prior was used for the genetic covariance matrix. Results Effective sample sizes (ESS) and biases of genetic parameters differed significantly between datasets. Bias of heritability estimates was -6% to +6% for the continuous trait, -6% to +10% for the binary traits of moderate heritability, and -21% to +25% for the binary traits of low heritability. Additive genetic correlations were mostly underestimated between the continuous trait and binary traits of low heritability, under- or overestimated between the continuous trait and binary traits of moderate heritability, and overestimated between two binary traits. Use of trait information on two subsequent generations of animals increased ESS and reduced bias of parameter estimates more than mere increase of the number of informative animals from one generation. Consideration of genotype information as a fixed effect in the model resulted in overestimation of polygenic heritability of the QTL trait, but increased accuracy of estimated additive genetic correlations of the QTL trait. Conclusion Combined use of phenotype and genotype information on parents and offspring will help to identify agonistic and antagonistic genetic correlations between traits of interests, facilitating design of effective multiple trait selection schemes.




BMC Genetics. 2007 May 09;8(1):19