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Use of meta-analyses and joint analyses to select variants in whole genome sequences for genomic evaluation: An application in milk production of French dairy cattle breeds.

  • Teissier, M1
  • Sanchez, M P2
  • Boussaha, M2
  • Barbat, A2
  • Hoze, C3
  • Robert-Granie, C4
  • Croiseau, P2
  • 1 GenPhySE, Université de Toulouse, INRA, INPT, ENVT, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France. Electronic address: [email protected] , (France)
  • 2 GABI, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France. , (France)
  • 3 GABI, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France; Allice, 75012 Paris, France. , (France)
  • 4 GenPhySE, Université de Toulouse, INRA, INPT, ENVT, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France. , (France)
Published Article
Journal of Dairy Science
American Dairy Science Association
Publication Date
Feb 07, 2018
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2017-13587
PMID: 29428760


As a result of the 1000 Bull Genome Project, it has become possible to impute millions of variants, with many of these potentially causative for traits of interest, for thousands of animals that have been genotyped with medium-density chips. This enormous source of data opens up very interesting possibilities for the inclusion of these variants in genomic evaluations. However, for computational reasons, it is not possible to include all variants in genomic evaluation procedures. One potential approach could be to select the most relevant variants based on the results of genome-wide association studies (GWAS); however, the identification of causative mutations is still difficult with this method, partly because of weak imputation accuracy for rare variants. To address this problem, this study assesses the ability of different approaches based on multi-breed GWAS (joint and meta-analyses) to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) for use in genomic evaluation in the 3 main French dairy cattle breeds. A total of 6,262 Holstein bulls, 2,434 Montbéliarde bulls, and 2,175 Normande bulls with daughter yield deviations for 5 milk production traits were imputed for 27 million variants. Within-breed and joint (including all 3 breeds) GWAS were performed and 3 models of meta-analysis were tested: fixed effect, random effect, and Z-score. Comparison of the results of within- and multi-breed GWAS showed that most of the quantitative trait loci identified using within-breed approaches were also found with multi-breed methods. However, the most significant variants identified in each region differed depending on the method used. To determine which approach highlighted the most predictive SNP for each trait, we used a marker-assisted best unbiased linear prediction model to evaluate lists of SNP generated by the different GWAS methods; each list contained between 25 and 2,000 candidate variants per trait, which were identified using a single within- or multi-breed GWAS approach. Among all the multi-breed methods tested in this study, variant selection based on meta-analysis (fixed effect) resulted in the most-accurate genomic evaluation (+1 to +3 points compared with other multi-breed approaches). However, the accuracies of genomic evaluation were always better when variants were selected using the results of within-breed GWAS. As has generally been found in studies of quantitative trait loci, these results suggest that part of the genetic variance of milk production traits is breed specific in Holstein, Montbéliarde, and Normande cattle.

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