Open Access

A study on the minimum number of loci required for genetic evaluation using a finite locus model

  • Liviu R. Totir1Email author,
  • Rohan L. Fernando1, 2,
  • Jack C.M. Dekkers1, 2 and
  • Soledad A. Fernández3
Genetics Selection Evolution200436:395

Received: 22 August 2003

Accepted: 22 March 2004

Published: 15 July 2004


For a finite locus model, Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods can be used to estimate the conditional mean of genotypic values given phenotypes, which is also known as the best predictor (BP). When computationally feasible, this type of genetic prediction provides an elegant solution to the problem of genetic evaluation under non-additive inheritance, especially for crossbred data. Successful application of MCMC methods for genetic evaluation using finite locus models depends, among other factors, on the number of loci assumed in the model. The effect of the assumed number of loci on evaluations obtained by BP was investigated using data simulated with about 100 loci. For several small pedigrees, genetic evaluations obtained by best linear prediction (BLP) were compared to genetic evaluations obtained by BP. For BLP evaluation, used here as the standard of comparison, only the first and second moments of the joint distribution of the genotypic and phenotypic values must be known. These moments were calculated from the gene frequencies and genotypic effects used in the simulation model. BP evaluation requires the complete distribution to be known. For each model used for BP evaluation, the gene frequencies and genotypic effects, which completely specify the required distribution, were derived such that the genotypic mean, the additive variance, and the dominance variance were the same as in the simulation model. For lowly heritable traits, evaluations obtained by BP under models with up to three loci closely matched the evaluations obtained by BLP for both purebred and crossbred data. For highly heritable traits, models with up to six loci were needed to match the evaluations obtained by BLP.


number of locifinite locus modelsMarkov chain Monte Carlo

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Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University
Lawrence H. Baker Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Statistics, Iowa State University
Department of Statistics, The Ohio State University


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004