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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Reliabilities of genomic prediction using combined reference data of the Nordic Red dairy cattle populations

Brøndum, Rasmus F.; Rius-Vilarrasa, Elisenda Rius; Strandén, Ismo; Su, Guosheng; Guldbrandtsen, Bernt; Fikse, Freddy; Lund, Mogens Sandø


This study investigated the possibility of increasing the reliability of direct genomic values (DGV) by combining reference populations. The data were from 3,735 bulls from Danish, Swedish, and Finnish Red dairy cattle populations. Single nucleotide polymorphism markers were fitted as random variables in a Bayesian model, using published estimated breeding values as response variables. In total, 17 index traits were analyzed. Reliabilities were estimated using a 5-fold cross validation, and calculated as the within-year squared correlation between estimated breeding values and DGV. Marker effects were estimated using reference populations from individual countries, as well as using a combined reference population from all 3 countries. Single-country reference populations gave mean reliabilities across 17 traits of 0.19 to 0.23, whereas the combined reference gave mean reliabilities of 0.26 for all populations. Using marker effects from 1 population to predict the other 2 gave a loss in mean reliability of 0.14 to 0.21 when predicting Swedish or Finnish animals with Danish marker effects, or vice versa. Using Swedish or Finnish marker effects to predict each other only showed a loss in mean reliability of 0.03 to 0.05. A combined Swedish-Finnish reference population led to an average reliability as high as that from the 3-country reference population, but somewhat different for individual traits. The results from this study show that it is possible to increase the reliability of DGV by combining reference populations from related populations.


combined reference population; genomic selection; reliability

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2011, Volume: 94, number: 9, pages: 4700-4707