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Genomic Predictions Using Low-Density SNP Markers, Pedigree And GWAS Information: A Case Study With The Non-Model Species Eucalyptus Cladocalyx

Paulina Ballesta, David Bush, Fabyano Fonseca Silva, Freddy Mora

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High-throughput genotyping techniques have enabled large-scale genomic analysis to precisely predict complex traits in many plant species. However, not all species can be well represented in commercial SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) arrays. In this study, a high-density SNP array (60 K) developed for commercial Eucalyptus was used to genotype a breeding population of Eucalyptus cladocalyx, yielding only ~3.9 K informative SNPs. Traditional Bayesian genomic models were investigated to predict flowering, stem quality and growth traits by considering the following effects: (i) polygenic background and all informative markers (GS model) and (ii) polygenic background, QTL-genotype effects (determined by GWAS) and SNP markers that were not associated with any trait (GSq model). The estimates of pedigree-based heritability and genomic heritability varied from 0.08 to 0.34 and 0.002 to 0.5, respectively, whereas the predictive ability varied from 0.19 (GS) and 0.45 (GSq). The GSq approach outperformed GS models in terms of predictive ability when the proportion of the variance explained by the significant marker-trait associations was higher than those explained by the polygenic background and non-significant markers. This approach can be particularly useful for plant/tree species poorly represented in the high-density SNP arrays, developed for economically important species, or when high-density marker panels are not available.