The impact of SNP density on quantitative genetic analyses of body size traits in a wild population of Soay sheep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Understanding the genetic architecture underpinning quantitative traits in wild populations is pivotal to understanding the processes behind trait evolution. The ‘animal model’ is a popular method for estimating quantitative genetic parameters such as heritability and genetic correlation and involves fitting an estimate of relatedness between individuals in the study population. Genotypes at genome-wide markers can be used to estimate relatedness; however, relatedness estimates vary with marker density, potentially affecting results. Increasing density of markers is also expected to increase the power to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL). In order to understand how the density of genetic markers affects the results of quantitative genetic analyses, we estimated heritability and performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on five body size traits in an unmanaged population of Soay sheep using two different SNP densities: a dataset of 37,037 genotyped SNPs and an imputed dataset of 417,373 SNPs. Heritability estimates did not differ between the two SNP densities, but the high-density imputed SNP dataset revealed four new SNP-trait associations that were not found with the lower density dataset, as well as confirming all previously-found QTL. We also demonstrated that fitting fixed and random effects in the same step as performing GWAS is a more powerful approach than pre-correcting for covariates in a separate model.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9639
Number of pages15
JournalEcology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • animal model
  • GWAS
  • heritability
  • SNP density
  • wild population


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