Genomic selection is particularly beneficial for difficult or expensive to measure traits. Since multi-trait selection is an important tool to deal with such cases, an important question is what the added value is of multi-trait genomic selection.
The simulated dataset, including a quantitative and binary trait, was analyzed with four univariate and bivariate linear models to predict breeding values for juvenile animals. Two models estimated variance components with REML using a numerator (A), or SNP based relationship matrix (G). Two SNP based Bayesian models included one (BayesA) or two distributions (BayesC) for estimated SNP effects. The bivariate BayesC model sampled QTL probabilities for each SNP conditional on both traits. Genotypes were permuted 2,000 times against phenotypes and pedigree, to obtain significance thresholds for posterior QTL probabilities. Genotypes were permuted rather than phenotypes, to retain relationships between pedigree and phenotypes, such that polygenic effects could still be estimated.
Correlations between estimated breeding values (EBV) of different SNP based models, for juvenile animals, were greater than 0.93 (0.87) for the quantitative (binary) trait. Estimated genetic correlation was 0.71 (0.66) for model G (A). Accuracies of breeding values of SNP based models were for both traits highest for BayesC and lowest for G. Accuracies of breeding values of bivariate models were up to 0.08 higher than for univariate models.
The bivariate BayesC model detected 14 out of 32 QTL for the quantitative trait, and 8 out of 22 for the binary trait.
Accuracy of EBV clearly improved for both traits using bivariate compared to univariate models. BayesC achieved highest accuracies of EBV and was also one of the methods that found most QTL. Permuting genotypes against phenotypes and pedigree in BayesC provided an effective way to derive significance thresholds for posterior QTL probabilities.