Marker selection and genomic prediction of economically important traits using imputed high-density genotypes for 5 breeds of dairy cattle

A. Al-Khudhair, P. M. VanRaden*, D. J. Null, B. Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Marker sets used in US dairy genomic predictions were previously expanded by including high-density (HD) or sequence markers with the largest effects for Holstein breed only. Other non-Holstein breeds lacked enough HD genotyped animals to be used as a reference population at that time, and thus were not included in the genomic prediction. Recently, numbers of non-Holstein breeds genotyped using HD panels reached an acceptable level for imputation and marker selection, allowing HD genomic prediction and HD marker selection for Holstein plus 4 other breeds. Genotypes for 351,461 Holsteins, 347,570 Jerseys, 42,346 Brown Swiss, 9,364 Ayrshires (including Red dairy cattle), and 4,599 Guernseys were imputed to the HD marker list that included 643,059 SNP. The separate HD reference populations included Illumina BovineHD (San Diego, CA) genotypes for 4,012 Holsteins, 407 Jerseys, 181 Brown Swiss, 527 Ayrshires, and 147 Guernseys. The 643,059 variants included the HD SNP and all 79,254 (80K) genetic markers and QTL used in routine national genomic evaluations. Before imputation, approximately 91 to 97% of genotypes were unknown for each breed; after imputation, 1.1% of Holstein, 3.2% of Jersey, 6.7% of Brown Swiss, 4.8% of Ayrshire, and 4.2% of Guernsey alleles remained unknown due to lower density haplotypes that had no matching HD haplotype. The higher remaining missing rates in non-Holstein breeds are mainly due to fewer HD genotyped animals in the imputation reference populations. Allele effects for up to 39 traits were estimated separately within each breed using phenotypic reference populations that included up to 6,157 Jersey males and 110,130 Jersey females. Correlations of HD with 80K genomic predictions for young animals averaged 0.986, 0.989, 0.985, 0.992, and 0.978 for Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Holstein breeds, respectively. Correlations were highest for yield traits (about 0.991) and lowest for foot angle and rear legs–side view (0.981and 0.982, respectively). Some HD effects were more than twice as large as the largest 80K SNP effect, and HD markers had larger effects than nearby 80K markers for many breed-trait combinations. Previous studies selected and included markers with large effects for Holstein traits; the newly selected HD markers should also improve non-Holstein and crossbred genomic predictions and were added to official US genomic predictions in April 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4478-4485
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
Early online date8 Feb 2021
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Apr 2021


  • genomic prediction
  • high-density genotype
  • imputation
  • marker selection
  • minor breeds


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