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  • 1. Besnier, Francois
    et al.
    Wahlberg, Per
    Rönnegård, Lars
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Ek, Weronika
    Andersson, Leif
    Siegel, Paul
    Carlborg, Örjan
    Fine mapping and replication of QTL in outbred chicken advanced intercross lines2011In: Genetics Selection Evolution, ISSN 0999-193X, E-ISSN 1297-9686, Vol. 43, article id 3Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Linkage mapping is used to identify genomic regions affecting the expression of complex traits. However, when experimental crosses such as F2 populations or backcrosses are used to map regions containing a Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL), the size of the regions identified remains quite large, i.e. 10 or more Mb. Thus, other experimental strategies are needed to refine the QTL locations. Advanced Intercross Lines (AIL) are produced by repeated intercrossing of F2 animals and successive generations, which decrease linkage disequilibrium in a controlled manner. Although this approach is seen as promising, both to replicate QTL analyses and fine-map QTL, only a few AIL datasets, all originating from inbred founders, have been reported in the literature.

    Methods: We have produced a nine-generation AIL pedigree (n = 1529) from two outbred chicken lines divergently selected for body weight at eight weeks of age. All animals were weighed at eight weeks of age and genotyped for SNP located in nine genomic regions where significant or suggestive QTL had previously been detected in the F2 population. In parallel, we have developed a novel strategy to analyse the data that uses both genotype and pedigree information of all AIL individuals to replicate the detection of and fine-map QTL affecting juvenile body weight.

    Results: Five of the nine QTL detected with the original F2 population were confirmed and fine-mapped with the AIL, while for the remaining four, only suggestive evidence of their existence was obtained. All original QTL were confirmed as a single locus, except for one, which split into two linked QTL.

    Conclusions: Our results indicate that many of the QTL, which are genome-wide significant or suggestive in the analyses of large intercross populations, are true effects that can be replicated and fine-mapped using AIL. Key factors for success are the use of large populations and powerful statistical tools. Moreover, we believe that the statistical methods we have developed to efficiently study outbred AIL populations will increase the number of organisms for which in-depth complex traits can be analyzed.

  • 2. Mulder, Han A.
    et al.
    Rönnegård, Lars
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Fikse, W Freddy
    Veerkamp, R F
    Strandberg, E
    Estimation of genetic variance for macro- and micro-environmental sensitivity using double hierarchical generalized linear models2013In: Genetics Selection Evolution, ISSN 0999-193X, E-ISSN 1297-9686, Vol. 45, article id 23Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Genetic variation for environmental sensitivity indicates that animals are genetically different in their response to environmental factors. Environmental factors are either identifiable (e.g. temperature) and called macro-environmental or unknown and called micro-environmental. The objectives of this study were to develop a statistical method to estimate genetic parameters for macro- and micro-environmental sensitivities simultaneously, to investigate bias and precision of resulting estimates of genetic parameters and to develop and evaluate use of Akaike’s information criterion using h-likelihood to select the best fitting model.

    Methods: We assumed that genetic variation in macro- and micro-environmental sensitivities is expressed as genetic variance in the slope of a linear reaction norm and environmental variance, respectively. A reaction norm model to estimate genetic variance for macro-environmental sensitivity was combined with a structural model for residual variance to estimate genetic variance for micro-environmental sensitivity using a double hierarchical generalized linear model in ASReml. Akaike’s information criterion was constructed as model selection criterion using approximated h-likelihood. Populations of sires with large half-sib offspring groups were simulated to investigate bias and precision of estimated genetic parameters.

    Results: Designs with 100 sires, each with at least 100 offspring, are required to have standard deviations of estimated variances lower than 50% of the true value. When the number of offspring increased, standard deviations of estimates across replicates decreased substantially, especially for genetic variances of macro- and micro-environmental sensitivities. Standard deviations of estimated genetic correlations across replicates were quite large (between 0.1 and 0.4), especially when sires had few offspring. Practically, no bias was observed for estimates of any of the parameters. Using Akaike’s information criterion the true genetic model was selected as the best statistical model in at least 90% of 100 replicates when the number of offspring per sire was 100. Application of the model to lactation milk yield in dairy cattle showed that genetic variance for micro- and macro-environmental sensitivities existed.

    Conclusion: The algorithm and model selection criterion presented here can contribute to better understand genetic control of macro- and micro-environmental sensitivities. Designs or datasets should have at least 100 sires each with 100 offspring.

  • 3.
    Rönnegård, Lars
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Felleki, Majbritt
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Fikse, Freddy
    Mulder, Herman A.
    Strandberg, Erling
    Genetic heterogeneity of residual variance: estimation of variance components using double hierarchical generalized linear models2010In: Genetics Selection Evolution, ISSN 0999-193X, E-ISSN 1297-9686, Vol. 42, article id 8Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: The sensitivity to microenvironmental changes varies among animals and may be under genetic control. It is essential to take this element into account when aiming at breeding robust farm animals. Here, linear mixed models with genetic effects in the residual variance part of the model can be used. Such models have previously been fitted using EM and MCMC algorithms.

    Results: We propose the use of double hierarchical generalized linear models (DHGLM), where the squared residuals are assumed to be gamma distributed and the residual variance is fitted using a generalized linear model. The algorithm iterates between two sets of mixed model equations, one on the level of observations and one on the level of variances. The method was validated using simulations and also by re-analyzing a data set on pig litter size that was previously analyzed using a Bayesian approach. The pig litter size data contained 10,060 records from 4,149 sows. The DHGLM was implemented using the ASReml software and the algorithm converged within three minutes on a Linux server. The estimates were similar to those previously obtained using Bayesian methodology, especially the variance components in the residual variance part of the model.

    Conclusions: We have shown that variance components in the residual variance part of a linear mixed model can be estimated using a DHGLM approach. The method enables analyses of animal models with large numbers of observations. An important future development of the DHGLM methodology is to include the genetic correlation between the random effects in the mean and residual variance parts of the model as a parameter of the DHGLM.

  • 4. Sonesson, Anna K
    et al.
    Odegård, Jørgen
    Rönnegård, Lars
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Genetic heterogeneity of within-family variance of body weight in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)2013In: Genetics Selection Evolution, ISSN 0999-193X, E-ISSN 1297-9686, Vol. 45, article id 41Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    BACKGROUND: Canalization is defined as the stability of a genotype against minor variations in both environment and genetics. Genetic variation in degree of canalization causes heterogeneity of within-family variance. The aims of this study are twofold: (1) quantify genetic heterogeneity of (within-family) residual variance in Atlantic salmon and (2) test whether the observed heterogeneity of (within-family) residual variance can be explained by simple scaling effects.

    RESULTS: Analysis of body weight in Atlantic salmon using a double hierarchical generalized linear model (DHGLM) revealed substantial heterogeneity of within-family variance. The 95% prediction interval for within-family variance ranged from ~0.4 to 1.2 kg2, implying that the within-family variance of the most extreme high families is expected to be approximately three times larger than the extreme low families. For cross-sectional data, DHGLM with an animal mean sub-model resulted in severe bias, while a corresponding sire-dam model was appropriate. Heterogeneity of variance was not sensitive to Box-Cox transformations of phenotypes, which implies that heterogeneity of variance exists beyond what would be expected from simple scaling effects.

    CONCLUSIONS: Substantial heterogeneity of within-family variance was found for body weight in Atlantic salmon. A tendency towards higher variance with higher means (scaling effects) was observed, but heterogeneity of within-family variance existed beyond what could be explained by simple scaling effects. For cross-sectional data, using the animal mean sub-model in the DHGLM resulted in biased estimates of variance components, which differed substantially both from a standard linear mean animal model and a sire-dam DHGLM model. Although genetic differences in canalization were observed, selection for increased canalization is difficult, because there is limited individual information for the variance sub-model, especially when based on cross-sectional data. Furthermore, potential macro-environmental changes (diet, climatic region, etc.) may make genetic heterogeneity of variance a less stable trait over time and space.

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