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Open Access Research article

Effect of family relatedness on characteristics of estimated IBD probabilities in relation to precision of QTL estimates

Gertraude Freyer1*, Jules Hernández-Sánchez23 and Natascha Vukasinovic4

Author Affiliations

1 Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), D-18196 Dummerstorf, Germany

2 Institute for Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

3 IRTA Animal Genetics, 25198 Lleida, Spain

4 Newsham Choice Genetics, STL Research Center, Chesterfield, MO-63005, USA

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BMC Genetics 2010, 11:85  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-11-85

Published: 26 September 2010



A random QTL effects model uses a function of probabilities that two alleles in the same or in different animals at a particular genomic position are identical by descent (IBD). Estimates of such IBD probabilities and therefore, modeling and estimating QTL variances, depend on marker polymorphism, strength of linkage and linkage disequilibrium of markers and QTL, and the relatedness of animals in the pedigree. The effect of relatedness of animals in a pedigree on IBD probabilities and their characteristics was examined in a simulation study.


The study based on nine multi-generational family structures, similar to a pedigree structure of a real dairy population, distinguished by an increased level of inbreeding from zero to 28% across the studied population. Highest inbreeding level in the pedigree, connected with highest relatedness, was accompanied by highest IBD probabilities of two alleles at the same locus, and by lower relative variation coefficients. Profiles of correlation coefficients of IBD probabilities along the marked chromosomal segment with those at the true QTL position were steepest when the inbreeding coefficient in the pedigree was highest. Precision of estimated QTL location increased with increasing inbreeding and pedigree relatedness. A method to assess the optimum level of inbreeding for QTL detection is proposed, depending on population parameters.


An increased overall relationship in a QTL mapping design has positive effects on precision of QTL position estimates. But the relationship of inbreeding level and the capacity for QTL detection depending on the recombination rate of QTL and adjacent informative marker is not linear.