Invited review: Inbreeding in the genomics era: Inbreeding, inbreeding depression, and management of genomic variability Academic Article uri icon


  • Traditionally, pedigree-based relationship coefficients have been used to manage the inbreeding and degree of inbreeding depression that exists within a population. The widespread incorporation of genomic information in dairy cattle genetic evaluations allows for the opportunity to develop and implement methods to manage populations at the genomic level. As a result, the realized proportion of the genome that 2 individuals share can be more accurately estimated instead of using pedigree information to estimate the expected proportion of shared alleles. Furthermore, genomic information allows genome-wide relationship or inbreeding estimates to be augmented to characterize relationships for specific regions of the genome. Region-specific stretches can be used to more effectively manage areas of low genetic diversity or areas that, when homozygous, result in reduced performance across economically important traits. The use of region-specific metrics should allow breeders to more precisely manage the trade-off between the genetic value of the progeny and undesirable side effects associated with inbreeding. Methods tailored toward more effectively identifying regions affected by inbreeding and their associated use to manage the genome at the herd level, however, still need to be developed. We have reviewed topics related to inbreeding, measures of relatedness, genetic diversity and methods to manage populations at the genomic level, and we discuss future challenges related to managing populations through implementing genomic methods at the herd and population levels.

publication date

  • 2017