Simulating the effects of dominance and epistasis on selection response in the CIMMYT wheat breeding program using QuCim
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Plant breeders use many different breeding methods to develop superior cultivars. However, it is difficult, cumbersome, and expensive to evaluate the performance of a breeding method or to compare the efficiencies of different breeding methods within an ongoing breeding program. To facilitate comparisons, we developed a QU-GENE module called QuCim that can simulate a large number of breeding strategies for self-pollinated species. The wheat breeding strategy "Selected Bulk" used by CIMMYT's wheat breeding program was defined in QuCim as an example of how this is done. This selection method was simulated in QuCim to investigate the effects of deviations from the additive genetic model, in the form of dominance and epistasis, on selection outcomes. The simulation results indicate that the partial dominance model does not greatly influence genetic advance compared with the pure additive model. Genetic advance in genetic systems with overdominance and epistasis are slower than when gene effects are purely additive or partially dominant. The additive gene effect is an appropriate indicator of the change in gene frequency following selection when epistasis is absent. In the absence of epistasis, the additive variance decreases rapidly with selection. However, after several cycles of selection it remains relatively fixed when epistasis is present. The variance from partial dominance is relatively small and therefore hard to detect by the covariance among half sibs and the covariance among full sibs. The dominance variance from the overdominance model can be identified successfully, but it does not change significantly, which confirms that overdominance cannot be utilized by an inbred breeding program. QuCim is an effective tool to compare selection strategies and to validate some theories in quantitative genetics.
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