Genetic Gain and Inbreeding from Genomic Selection in a Simulated Commercial Breeding Program for Perennial Ryegrass Academic Article uri icon


  • Genomic selection (GS) provides an attractive option for accelerating genetic gain in perennial ryegrass () improvement given the long cycle times of most current breeding programs. The present study used simulation to investigate the level of genetic gain and inbreeding obtained from GS breeding strategies compared with traditional breeding strategies for key traits (persistency, yield, and flowering time). Base population genomes were simulated through random mating for 60,000 generations at an effective population size of 10,000. The degree of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in the resulting population was compared with that obtained from empirical studies. Initial parental varieties were simulated to match diversity of current commercial cultivars. Genomic selection was designed to fit into a company breeding program at two selection points in the breeding cycle (spaced plants and miniplot). Genomic estimated breeding values (GEBVs) for productivity traits were trained with phenotypes and genotypes from plots. Accuracy of GEBVs was 0.24 for persistency and 0.36 for yield for single plants, while for plots it was lower (0.17 and 0.19, respectively). Higher accuracy of GEBVs was obtained for flowering time (up to 0.7), partially as a result of the larger reference population size that was available from the clonal row stage. The availability of GEBVs permit a 4-yr reduction in cycle time, which led to at least a doubling and trebling genetic gain for persistency and yield, respectively, than the traditional program. However, a higher rate of inbreeding per cycle among varieties was also observed for the GS strategy.

publication date

  • 2016