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Interpretive Summary: Strategies for accommodating gene-edited sires and their descendants in genetic evaluations

By: Leticia P Sanglard, Garret M See, Matthew L Spangler

Coupling gene editing, a technology with the potential to make specific changes to DNA sequence (e.g., quantitative trait nucleotide, QTN), with genomic selection can generate faster genetic gain in economically important traits. However, gene editing would impact the genetic relationship among individuals and, consequently, genetic evaluations. The objectives of this study were to understand how gene editing impacts genetic prediction and develop strategies to mitigate potential errors in estimated breeding values (EBV). A beef cattle population was simulated (N = 13,100; nine generations) with the introduction of gene-edited sires in generation 8. Genetic evaluations were performed using pedigree and genomic data. Relationships were weighted based on the effect of the edited QTN. In general, the EBV of the first generation of progeny of gene-edited sires were associated with greater average absolute bias and overdispersion than the EBV of the progeny of non-gene-edited sires. Weighting the relationship matrices decreased the average absolute bias and dispersion for the progeny of gene-edited sires. For the second generation of descendants of gene-edited sires, the absolute bias increased by 0.10 for each allele edited. By weighting the relationship matrices, the rate of increase in absolute bias per allele decreased to 0.007. Therefore, when gene-edited sires are included in genetic evaluations, strategies such as weighting the relationship matrices should be considered to avoid incorrect selection decisions.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.