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Nonparametric Method for Genomics-Based Prediction of Performance of Quantitative Traits Involving Epistasis in Plant Breeding

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050604
  • Research Article
  • Agriculture
  • Agricultural Biotechnology
  • Marker-Assisted Selection
  • Biology
  • Computational Biology
  • Genomics
  • Genome Analysis Tools
  • Trait Locus Analysis
  • Population Modeling
  • Plant Science
  • Agronomy
  • Plant Breeding
  • Computer Science
  • Computerized Simulations
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Statistical Methods
  • Biology
  • Logic


Genomic selection (GS) procedures have proven useful in estimating breeding value and predicting phenotype with genome-wide molecular marker information. However, issues of high dimensionality, multicollinearity, and the inability to deal effectively with epistasis can jeopardize accuracy and predictive ability. We, therefore, propose a new nonparametric method, pRKHS, which combines the features of supervised principal component analysis (SPCA) and reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHS) regression, with versions for traits with no/low epistasis, pRKHS-NE, to high epistasis, pRKHS-E. Instead of assigning a specific relationship to represent the underlying epistasis, the method maps genotype to phenotype in a nonparametric way, thus requiring fewer genetic assumptions. SPCA decreases the number of markers needed for prediction by filtering out low-signal markers with the optimal marker set determined by cross-validation. Principal components are computed from reduced marker matrix (called supervised principal components, SPC) and included in the smoothing spline ANOVA model as independent variables to fit the data. The new method was evaluated in comparison with current popular methods for practicing GS, specifically RR-BLUP, BayesA, BayesB, as well as a newer method by Crossa et al., RKHS-M, using both simulated and real data. Results demonstrate that pRKHS generally delivers greater predictive ability, particularly when epistasis impacts trait expression. Beyond prediction, the new method also facilitates inferences about the extent to which epistasis influences trait expression.

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