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Journal: Genetics, selection, evolution : GSE


BACKGROUND: Most Bayesian models for the analysis of complex traits are not analytically tractable and inferences are based on computationally intensive techniques. This is true of Bayesian models for genome-enabled selection, which uses whole-genome molecular data to predict the genetic merit of candidate animals for breeding purposes. In this regard, parallel computing can overcome the bottlenecks that can arise from series computing. Hence, a major goal of the present study is to bridge the gap to high-performance Bayesian computation in the context of animal breeding and genetics. RESULTS: Parallel Monte Carlo Markov chain algorithms and strategies are described in the context of animal breeding and genetics. Parallel Monte Carlo algorithms are introduced as a starting point including their applications to computing single-parameter and certain multipleparameter models. Then, two basic approaches for parallel Markov chain Monte Carlo are described: one aims at parallelization within a single chain; the other is based on running multiple chains, yet some variants are discussed as well. Features and strategies of the parallel Markov chain Monte Carlo are illustrated using real data, including a large beef cattle dataset with 50K SNP genotypes. CONCLUSIONS: Parallel Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms are useful for computing complex Bayesian models, which does not only lead to a dramatic speedup in computing but can also be used to optimize model parameters in complex Bayesian models. Hence, we anticipate that use of parallel Markov chain Monte Carlo will have a profound impact on revolutionizing the computational tools for genomic selection programs.

Concepts: Genetics, Speedup, Parallel computing, Monte Carlo, Markov chain Monte Carlo, Parallel algorithm, Gustafson's law, Amdahl's law


Classification of species within the genus Salmo is still a matter of discussion due to their high level of diversity and to the low power of resolution of mitochondrial (mt)DNA-based phylogeny analyses that have been traditionally used in evolutionary studies of the genus. We apply a new marker system based on nuclear (n)DNA loci to present a novel view of the phylogeny of Salmo representatives and we compare it with the mtDNA-based phylogeny.

Concepts: DNA, Evolution, Molecular biology, Biology, Species, Phylogenetics, Order, Biological classification


One of the five basal actinopterygian lineages, the Chondrostei, including sturgeon, shovelnose, and paddlefish (Order Acipenseriformes) show extraordinary ploidy diversity associated with three rounds of lineage-specific whole-genome duplication, resulting in three levels of ploidy in sturgeon. Recently, incidence of spontaneous polyploidization has been reported among cultured sturgeon and it could have serious negative implications for the economics of sturgeon farming. We report the occurrence of seven spontaneous heptaploid (7n) Siberian sturgeon Acipenser baerii, which is a functional tetraploid species (4n) with ~245 chromosomes. Our aims were to assess ploidy level and chromosome number of the analysed specimens and to identify the possible mechanism that underlies the occurrence of spontaneous additional chromosome sets in their genome.

Concepts: DNA, Species, Chromosome, Meiosis, Actinopterygii, Sturgeon, Acipenseriformes, Siberian sturgeon


Temperament traits are of high importance across species. In humans, temperament or personality traits correlate with psychological traits and psychiatric disorders. In cattle, they impact animal welfare, product quality and human safety, and are therefore of direct commercial importance. We hypothesized that genetic factors that contribute to variation in temperament among individuals within a species will be shared between humans and cattle. Using imputed whole-genome sequence data from 9223 beef cattle from three cohorts, a series of genome-wide association studies was undertaken on cattle flight time, a temperament phenotype measured as the time taken for an animal to cover a short-fixed distance after release from an enclosure. We also investigated the association of cattle temperament with polymorphisms in bovine orthologs of risk genes for neuroticism, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and developmental delay disorders in humans.


Genome editing (GE) is a method that enables specific nucleotides in the genome of an individual to be changed. To date, use of GE in livestock has focussed on simple traits that are controlled by a few quantitative trait nucleotides (QTN) with large effects. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of GE to improve quantitative traits that are controlled by many QTN, referred to here as promotion of alleles by genome editing (PAGE).

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Classical genetics


This study aimed at (1) assessing the genomic stratification of experimental lines of Nelore cattle that have experienced different selection regimes for growth traits, and (2) identifying genomic regions that have undergone recent selection. We used a sample of 763 animals genotyped with the Illumina BovineHD BeadChip, among which 674 animals originated from two lines that are maintained under directional selection for increased yearling body weight and 89 animals from a control line that is maintained under stabilizing selection.


Selection of cattle that are less sensitive to environmental variation in unfavorable environments and more adapted to harsh conditions is of primary importance for tropical beef cattle production systems. Understanding the genetic background of sensitivity to environmental variation is necessary for developing strategies and tools to increase efficiency and sustainability of beef production. We evaluated the degree of sensitivity of beef cattle performance to environmental variation, at the animal and molecular marker levels (412 K single nucleotide polymorphisms), by fitting and comparing the results of different reaction norm models (RNM), using a comprehensive dataset of Nellore cattle raised under diverse environmental conditions.


Twenty-five phenotypes were measured as indicators of bull fertility (1099 Brahman and 1719 Tropical Composite bulls). Measurements included sperm morphology, scrotal circumference, and sperm chromatin phenotypes such as DNA fragmentation and protamine deficiency. We estimated the heritability of these phenotypes and carried out genome-wide association studies (GWAS) within breed, using the bovine high-density chip, to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL).


Understanding genetic architecture is essential for determining how traits will change in response to evolutionary processes such as selection, genetic drift and/or gene flow. In Atlantic salmon, age at maturity is an important life history trait that affects factors such as survival, reproductive success, and growth. Furthermore, age at maturity can seriously impact aquaculture production. Therefore, characterizing the genetic architecture that underlies variation in age at maturity is of key interest.


In this paper, we simulate deleterious load in an animal breeding program, and compare the efficiency of genome editing and selection for decreasing it. Deleterious variants can be identified by bioinformatics screening methods that use sequence conservation and biological prior information about protein function. However, once deleterious variants have been identified, how can they be used in breeding?