Open Access

Marker assisted selection for the improvement of two antagonistic traits under mixed inheritance

Genetics Selection Evolution200133:17

Received: 7 January 2000

Accepted: 4 October 2000

Published: 15 January 2001


A Monte Carlo simulation was used to investigate the potential of Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) in a multiple-trait situation. Only additive effects were considered. The base population was assumed to be in linkage equilibrium and, next, the population was managed over 15 discrete generations, 10 males and 50 females were chosen out of the 100 candidates of each sex. Performance for two traits was simulated with an overall heritability of a given trait equal to 0.25 or 0.10 and the overall genetic correlation between traits was generally equal to -0.4 except in one case where it was equal to 0. The model involved one biallelic QTL, accounting for 10 or 20% of the genetic variance of a given trait, plus polygenes. Initial allelic frequencies at the QTL were generally equal to 0.5 but in one case were equal to 0.1 and 0.9. A marker with 120 different alleles in the 60 founder parents was simulated in the vicinity of the QTL. Two values of the recombination rate between these two loci were considered, 0.10 and 0.02. The genetic evaluation was based on a multiple-trait BLUP animal model, accounting (MAS) or not (conventional BLUP) for marker information. Two sets of simulations were run: (1) a "missing data"case, with males having no record for one of the traits, and (2) a "secondary trait"case, with one trait having a weight in the aggregate genotype 4 times less than the other trait and the QTL acting only on this secondary trait. In the first set, evaluation methods were found to mainly affect the accuracy of overall genetic values prediction for the trait with missing data. In comparison with BLUP, MAS led to an extra overall genetic response for the trait with missing data, which was strongly penalised under the conventional BLUP, and to a deficit in response for the other trait. This more balanced evolution of the two traits was obtained, however, at the expense of the long-term overall cumulated response for the aggregate genotype, which was 1 to 2.5% lower than the one obtained under the conventional BLUP. In the second set of simulation, in the case of low initial frequency (0.1) of the QTL allele favourable to the secondary trait, MAS was found to be substantially more efficient to avoid losing this allele than BLUP only when the QTL had a large effect and the marker was close. More benefits should be expected from MAS with more specific applications, such as early selection of animals, or by applying dynamic procedures i.e. letting the respective weights to QTL and polygenic values in the selection criterion vary across generation.


marker assisted selection genetic response mixed model methodology

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Authors’ Affiliations

Station de génétique quantitative et appliquée, Institut national de la recherche agronomique
Département des sciences animales, INA Paris-Grignon


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2001