Genomic Prediction in Animals and Plants: Simulation of Data, Validation, Reporting and Benchmarking
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The genomic prediction of phenotypes and breeding values in animals and plants has developed rapidly into its own research field. Results of genomic prediction studies are often difficult to compare because data simulation varies, real or simulated data are not fully described, and not all relevant results are reported. In addition, some new methods have been compared only in limited genetic architectures, leading to potentially misleading conclusions. In this article we review simulation procedures, discuss validation and reporting of results, and apply benchmark procedures for a variety of genomic prediction methods in simulated and real example data. Plant and animal breeding programs are being transformed by the use of genomic data, which are becoming widely available and cost-effective to predict genetic merit. A large number of genomic prediction studies have been published using both simulated and real data. The relative novelty of this area of research has made the development of scientific conventions difficult with regard to description of the real data, simulation of genomes, validation and reporting of results, and forward in time methods. In this review article we discuss the generation of simulated genotype and phenotype data, using approaches such as the coalescent and forward in time simulation. We outline ways to validate simulated data and genomic prediction results, including cross-validation. The accuracy and bias of genomic prediction are highlighted as performance indicators that should be reported. We suggest that a measure of relatedness between the reference and validation individuals be reported, as its impact on the accuracy of genomic prediction is substantial. A large number of methods were compared in example simulated and real (pine and wheat) data sets, all of which are publicly available. In our limited simulations, most methods performed similarly in traits with a large number of quantitative trait loci (QTL), whereas in traits with fewer QTL variable selection did have some advantages. In the real data sets examined here all methods had very similar accuracies. We conclude that no single method can serve as a benchmark for genomic prediction. We recommend comparing accuracy and bias of new methods to results from genomic best linear prediction and a variable selection approach (e.g., BayesB), because, together, these methods are appropriate for a range of genetic architectures. An accompanying article in this issue provides a comprehensive review of genomic prediction methods and discusses a selection of topics related to application of genomic prediction in plants and animals.
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