Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Diego Jarquin

Date of this Version



Agriculture 2020, 10, 308; doi:10.3390/agriculture10080308


© 2020 by the authors.


The availability of molecular markers has revolutionized conventional ways to improve genotypes in plant and animal breeding through genome-based predictions. Several models and methods have been developed to leverage the genomic information in the prediction context to allow more efficient ways to screen and select superior genotypes. In plant breeding, usually, grain yield (yield) is the main trait to drive the selection of superior genotypes; however, in many cases, the information of associated traits is also routinely collected and it can potentially be used to enhance the selection. In this research, we considered different prediction strategies to leverage the information of the associated traits ([AT]; full: all traits observed for the same genotype; and partial: some traits observed for the same genotype) under an alternative single-trait model and the multi-trait approach. The alternative single-trait model included the information of the AT for yield prediction via the phenotypic covariances while the multi-trait model jointly analyzed all the traits. The performance of these strategies was assessed using the marker and phenotypic information from the Soybean Nested Association Mapping (SoyNAM) project observed in Nebraska in 2012. The results showed that the alternative single-trait strategy, which combines the marker and the information of the AT, outperforms the multi-trait model by around 12% and the conventional single-trait strategy (baseline) by 25%. When no information on the AT was available for those genotypes in the testing sets, the multi-trait model reduced the baseline results by around 6%. For the cases where genotypes were partially observed (i.e., some traits observed but not others for the same genotype), the multi-trait strategy showed improvements of around 6% for yield and between 2% to 9% for the other traits. Hence, when yield drives the selection of superior genotypes, the single-trait and multi-trait genomic prediction will achieve significant improvements when some genotypes have been fully or partially tested, with the alternative single-trait model delivering the best results. These results provide empirical evidence of the usefulness of the AT for improving the predictive ability of prediction models for breeding applications.