Using genomic prediction to detect microevolutionary change of a quantitative trait

D. C. Hunter, B. Ashraf, C. Bérénos, Philip A. Ellis, S. E. Johnston, A. J. Wilson, J. G. Pilkington, J. M. Pemberton, J. Slate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Detecting microevolutionary responses to natural selection by observing temporal changes in individual breeding values is challenging. The collection of suitable datasets can take many years and disentangling the contributions of the environment and genetics to phenotypic change is not trivial. Furthermore, pedigree-based methods of obtaining individual breeding values have known biases. Here, we apply a genomic prediction approach to estimate breeding values of adult weight in a 35-year dataset of Soay sheep (Ovis aries). Comparisons are made with a traditional pedigree-based approach. During the study period, adult body weight decreased, but the underlying genetic component of body weight increased, at a rate that is unlikely to be attributable to genetic drift. Thus cryptic microevolution of greater adult body weight has probably occurred. Genomic and pedigree-based approaches gave largely consistent results. Thus, using genomic prediction to study microevolution in wild populations can remove the requirement for pedigree data, potentially opening up new study systems for similar research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20220330
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1974
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2022


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