Estimated breeding values for the selection of more profitable sheep for the sheep meat and wool industries are currently based on pedigree and phenotypic records. With the advent of a medium-density DNA marker array, which genotypes ∼50000 ovine single nucleotide polymorphisms, a third source of information has become available. The aim of this paper was to determine whether this genomic information can be used to predict estimated breeding values for wool and meat traits. The effects of all single nucleotide polymorphism markers in a multi-breed sheep reference population of 7180 individuals with phenotypic records were estimated to derive prediction equations for genomic estimated breeding values (GEBV) for greasy fleece weight, fibre diameter, staple strength, breech wrinkle score, weight at ultrasound scanning, scanned eye muscle depth and scanned fat depth. Five hundred and forty industry sires with very accurate Australian sheep breeding values were used as a validation population and the accuracies of GEBV were assessed according to correlations between GEBV and Australian sheep breeding values . The accuracies of GEBV ranged from 0.15 to 0.79 for wool traits in Merino sheep and from 0.07 to 0.57 for meat traits in all breeds studied. Merino industry sires tended to have more accurate GEBV than terminal and maternal breeds because the reference population consisted mainly of Merino haplotypes. The lower accuracy for terminal and maternal breeds suggests that the density of genetic markers used was not high enough for accurate across-breed prediction of marker effects. Our results indicate that an increase in the size of the reference population will increase the accuracy of GEBV.
- Genomic selection
- Single nucleotide polymorphism