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Quantitative Trait Locus Mapping Based On Resampling In A Vast Maize Testcross Experiment And Its Relevance To Quantitative Genetics For Complex Traits

Chris C Schön, H Friedrich Utz, Susanne Groh, Bernd Truberg, Steve Openshaw, Albrecht E Melchinger

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Abstract From simulation studies it is known that the allocation of experimental resources has a crucial effect on power of QTL detection as well as on accuracy and precision of QTL estimates. In this study, we used a very large experimental data set composed of 976 F5 maize testcross progenies evaluated in 19 environments and cross-validation to assess the effect of sample size (N), number of test environments (E), and significance threshold on the number of detected QTL, the proportion of the genotypic variance explained by them, and the corresponding bias of estimates for grain yield, grain moisture, and plant height. In addition, we used computer simulations to compare the usefulness of two cross-validation schemes for obtaining unbiased estimates of QTL effects. The maximum, validated genotypic variance explained by QTL in this study was 52.3% for grain moisture despite the large number of detected QTL, thus confirming the infinitesimal model of quantitative genetics. In both simulated and experimental data, the effect of sample size on power of QTL detection as well as on accuracy and precision of QTL estimates was large. The number of detected QTL and the proportion of genotypic variance explained by QTL generally increased more with increasing N than with increasing E. The average bias of QTL estimates and its range were reduced by increasing N and E. Cross-validation performed well with respect to yielding asymptotically unbiased estimates of the genotypic variance explained by QTL. On the basis of our findings, recommendations for planning of QTL mapping experiments and allocation of experimental resources are given.