Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



G3 Genes | Genomes | Genetics Volume 9 September 2019


Copyright © 2019 Howard et al.

Open access



Genome-enabled prediction plays an essential role in wheat breeding because it has the potential to increase the rate of genetic gain relative to traditional phenotypic and pedigree-based selection. Since the performance of wheat lines is highly influenced by environmental stimuli, it is important to accurately model the environment and its interaction with genetic factors in prediction models. Arguably, multi-environmental best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) may deliver better prediction performance than single-environment genomic BLUP. We evaluated pedigree and genome-based prediction using 35,403 wheat lines from the Global Wheat Breeding Program of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). We implemented eight statistical models that included genome-wide molecular marker and pedigree information as prediction inputs in two different validation schemes. All models included main effects, but some considered interactions between the different types of pedigree and genomic covariates via Hadamard products of similarity kernels. Pedigree models always gave better prediction of new lines in observed environments than genome-based models when only main effects were fitted. However, for all traits, the highest predictive abilities were obtained when interactions between pedigree, genomes, and environments were included. When new lines were predicted in unobserved environments, in almost all trait/year combinations, the marker main-effects model was the best. These results provide strong evidence that the different sources of genetic information (molecular markers and pedigree) are not equally useful at different stages of the breeding pipelines, and can be employed differentially to improve the design and prediction of the outcome of future breeding programs.