The use of genomic coancestry matrices in the optimisation of contributions to maintain genetic diversity at specific regions of the genome

Fernando Gómez-Romano, Beatriz Villanueva, Jesús Fernández, John A Woolliams, Ricardo Pong-Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Optimal contribution methods have proved to be very efficient for controlling the rates at which coancestry and inbreeding increase and therefore, for maintaining genetic diversity. These methods have usually relied on pedigree information for estimating genetic relationships between animals. However, with the large amount of genomic information now available such as high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips that contain thousands of SNPs, it becomes possible to calculate more accurate estimates of relationships and to target specific regions in the genome where there is a particular interest in maximising genetic diversity. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of using genomic coancestry matrices for: (1) minimising the loss of genetic variability at specific genomic regions while restricting the overall loss in the rest of the genome; or (2) maximising the overall genetic diversity while restricting the loss of diversity at specific genomic regions.

RESULTS: Our study shows that the use of genomic coancestry was very successful at minimising the loss of diversity and outperformed the use of pedigree-based coancestry (genetic diversity even increased in some scenarios). The results also show that genomic information allows a targeted optimisation to maintain diversity at specific genomic regions, whether they are linked or not. The level of variability maintained increased when the targeted regions were closely linked. However, such targeted management leads to an important loss of diversity in the rest of the genome and, thus, it is necessary to take further actions to constrain this loss. Optimal contribution methods also proved to be effective at restricting the loss of diversity in the rest of the genome, although the resulting rate of coancestry was higher than the constraint imposed.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of genomic matrices when optimising contributions permits the control of genetic diversity and inbreeding at specific regions of the genome through the minimisation of partial genomic coancestry matrices. The formula used to predict coancestry in the next generation produces biased results and therefore it is necessary to refine the theory of genetic contributions when genomic matrices are used to optimise contributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2016


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