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Simulating a base population in honey bee for molecular genetic studies

  • Over the past years, reports have indicated that honey bee populations are declining and that infestation by an ecto-parasitic mite (Varroa destructor) is one of the main causes. Selective breeding of resistant bees can help to prevent losses due to the parasite, but it requires that a robust breeding program and genetic evaluation are implemented. Genomic selection has emerged as an important tool in animal breeding programs and simulation studies have shown that it yields more accurate breeding values estimates, higher genetic gain and low rates of inbreeding. Since genomic selection relies on marker data, simulations conducted on a genomic dataset are a pre-requisite before selection can be implemented. Although genomic datasets have been simulated in other species undergoing genetic evaluation, simulation of a genomic dataset specific to the honey bee is required since this species has distinct genetic and reproductive biology characteristics. Our software program was aimed at constructing a base population by simulating a random mating honey bee population. A forward-time population simulation approach was applied since it allows modeling of genetic characteristics and reproductive behavior specific to the honey bee.  Results: Our software program yielded a genomic dataset for a base population in linkage disequilibrium. In addition, information was obtained on (1) the position of markers on each chromosome, (2) allele frequency, (3) ?2 statistics for Hardy- Weinberg equilibrium, (4) a sorted list of markers with a minor allele frequency less than or equal to the input value, (5) average r2 values of linkage disequilibrium between all simulated marker loci pair for all generations and (6) average r2 value of linkage disequilibrium in the last generation for selected markers with the highest minor allele frequency. Conclusion: We developed a software program that takes into account the genetic and reproductive biology characteristics specific to the honey bee and that can be used to constitute a genomic dataset compatible with the simulation studies necessary to optimize breeding programs. The source code together with an instruction file is freely accessible at http://msproteomics.org/Research/Misc/honeybeepopulationsimulator.html

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Author:Pooja Gupta, Tim ConradORCiD, Andreas Spötter, Norbert Reinsch, Kaspar Bienefeld
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):Genetics Selection Evolution
Year of first publication:2012
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