Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



J. Anim. Sci. 2007. 85:641–649; doi:10.2527/jas.2006-617.


Used by permission


The use of marker assisted selection in the beef cattle industry to date has involved using traditional EPD in tandem with molecular test information. In the current study, a multiple-trait simulation was carried out to create a beef cattle data set using genetic parameter estimates from the literature to identify the best procedure for combining both sources of information and to assess the added benefit of the procedure. To reach these objectives, the following simulation/ analysis steps were implemented: (1) varying percentages (100, 5, or 0) of available records for the trait of interest, (2) varying percentages (100, 50, 25, or 0) of animals with molecular information, (3) scenarios where the favorable (F) or the unfavorable (U) allele was more frequent, and (4) analysis of the response due to selection over 5 generations. The data sets included 3 correlated traits in which 2 of them, birth weight and post-weaning gain, had complete recording and the availability of records for the third trait (marbling score) varied. It was further assumed that molecular information was available for the third trait for a causative gene that explained 10% of the genetic variation.

Estimates of Pearson correlations between true and predicted breeding values for marbling score declined as the amount of information declined, and instances in which the molecular information was recorded were always closer to the true values than in the case in which the molecular information was absent. When the U allele was more frequent, rank correlation estimates were increased among top sires, low accuracy sires, and high accuracy sires by approximately 24.9, 12.1, and 4.7% with limited marbling score records and complete genotyping compared with limited marbling score records and no genotyping. Similar results were seen when the F allele was more frequent. When there was a complete absence of recording for the trait of interest, the same trends in correlations were observed and were lower than when the trait of interest was recorded. Jointly considering molecular and phenotypic information showed a greater long-term response compared with tandem selection, showing that discrimination of candidates for selection based solely on molecular information is not optimal.