Review: optimizing genomic selection for crossbred performance by model improvement and data collection

Duenk, Pascal; Bijma, Piter; Wientjes, Yvonne C.J.; Calus, Mario P.L.


Breeding programs aiming to improve the performance of crossbreds may benefit from genomic prediction of crossbred (CB) performance for purebred (PB) selection candidates. In this review, we compared genomic prediction strategies that differed in 1) the genomic prediction model used or 2) the data used in the reference population. We found 27 unique studies, two of which used deterministic simulation, 11 used stochastic simulation, and 14 real data. Differences in accuracy and response to selection between strategies depended on i) the value of the purebred crossbred genetic correlation (rpc), ii) the genetic distance between the parental lines, iii) the size of PB and CB reference populations, and iv) the relatedness of these reference populations to the selection candidates. In studies where a PB reference population was used, the use of a dominance model yielded accuracies that were equal to or higher than those of additive models. When rpc was lower than ~0.8, and was caused mainly by G × E, it was beneficial to create a reference population of PB animals that are tested in a CB environment. In general, the benefit of collecting CB information increased with decreasing rpc. For a given rpc, the benefit of collecting CB information increased with increasing size of the reference populations. Collecting CB information was not beneficial when rpc was higher than ~0.9, especially when the reference populations were small. Collecting only phenotypes of CB animals may slightly improve accuracy and response to selection, but requires that the pedigree is known. It is, therefore, advisable to genotype these CB animals as well. Finally, considering the breed-origin of alleles allows for modeling breed-specific effects in the CB, but this did not always lead to higher accuracies. Our review shows that the differences in accuracy and response to selection between strategies depend on several factors. One of the most important factors is rpc, and we, therefore, recommend to obtain accurate estimates of rpc of all breeding goal traits. Furthermore, knowledge about the importance of components of rpc (i.e., dominance, epistasis, and G × E) can help breeders to decide which model to use, and whether to collect data on animals in a CB environment. Future research should focus on the development of a tool that predicts accuracy and response to selection from scenario specific parameters.