Analysis of founder-specific inbreeding depression on birth weight in Ripollesa lambs

J. Casellas, J. Piedrafita, G. Caja, L. Varona

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Although inbreeding (F) is a topic of major concern in animal breeding, estimates of inbreeding depression are usually obtained by modeling the overall F coefficient of each individual, without considering that the recessive (deleterious) genetic load of a given population may be unevenly distributed among the founder genomes. The founder-specific partial F coefficient is calculated as the identity-by-descent probability at any given autosomal locus related to a particular founder and allows a more detailed analysis of inbreeding depression on productive traits. Within this context, birth BW data from 2,459 Ripollesa lambs were analyzed under a hierarchical animal model without F-related covariates (model 0), with inbreeding depression modeled by the overall F coefficient (model F1), or by the partial F coefficient of 9 founders that made a relevant contribution to the population inbreeding (model F2). A straightforward empirical Bayes factor (BF) was developed for testing statistical relevance of each F-related covariate, in which greater-than-1 values favored the model including the covariate. The deviance information criterion (DIC) clearly supported model F1 (5,767.8) rather than model 0 (5,771.2), suggesting that inbreeding depression had a relevant influence on birth BW data. The linear effect of inbreeding depression was statistically relevant in model F1 (BF = 2.52 × 1035), with lamb birth BW declining by -13.6 g with each 1% F increase. The quadratic effect of inbreeding depression was almost null in model F1 (BF = 0.02), as suggested by the reduction in DIC (5,766.9) when this effect was removed from model F1. On the other hand, model F2 provided a similar DIC (5,767.9) value, with this parameter decreasing to 5,764.7 when nonrelevant founder-specific inbreeding depression effects were removed. Substantial heterogeneity in founder-specific inbreeding depression was reported by model F2, in which estimates for 4 of the 9 founders did not differ from zero (BF between 0.05 and 0.42), whereas 5 founders originated moderate (-8.2 g for each 1% F increase; BF = 1.42) to large inbreeding depression (-96.2 g for each 1% F increase; BF = 8.80 × 10 19). The substantial variability between founder estimates suggested that inbreeding depression effects may mainly be due to a few alleles with major deleterious effects. These results contribute valuable information that should help to achieve more accurate management of inbreeding in the Ripollesa breed. © 2009 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Birth weight
  • Empirical bayes factor
  • Founder
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Ripollesa sheep


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