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Incorporating Desirable Genetic Characteristics From An Inferior Into A Superior Population Using Genomic Selection

J Ødegård, M H Yazdi, A K Sonesson, T H E Meuwissen

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Abstract Resistance to specific diseases may be improved by crossing a recipient line with a donor line (a distantly related strain) that is characterized by the desirable trait. However, considerable losses in the total merit index are expected when crossing recipient and donor lines. Repeated backcrossing with the recipient line will improve total merit index, but usually at the expense of the newly introgressed disease resistance, especially if this is due to polygenic effects rather than to a known single major QTL. This study investigates the possibilities for a more detailed introgression program based on marker-trait associations using dense marker genotyping and genomic selection. Compared with classical selection, genomic selection increased genetic gain, with the largest effect on low heritability traits and on traits not recorded on selection candidates (due to within-family selection). Further, within a wide range of economic weights and initial differences in the total merit index between donor and recipient lines, genomic selection produced backcrossed lines that were similar or better than the purebred lines within three to five generations. When using classical selection in backcrossing schemes, the long-term genetic contribution of the donor line was low. Hence, such selection schemes would usually perform similarly to simple purebreeding selection schemes.