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Open Access Methodology article

New algorithm improves fine structure of the barley consensus SNP map

Jeffrey B Endelman

Author Affiliations

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon, WA 98273, USA

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:407  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-407

Published: 10 August 2011



The need to integrate information from multiple linkage maps is a long-standing problem in genetics. One way to visualize the complex ordinal relationships is with a directed graph, where each vertex in the graph is a bin of markers. When there are no ordering conflicts between the linkage maps, the result is a directed acyclic graph, or DAG, which can then be linearized to produce a consensus map.


New algorithms for the simplification and linearization of consensus graphs have been implemented as a package for the R computing environment called DAGGER. The simplified consensus graphs produced by DAGGER exactly capture the ordinal relationships present in a series of linkage maps. Using either linear or quadratic programming, DAGGER generates a consensus map with minimum error relative to the linkage maps while remaining ordinally consistent with them. Both linearization methods produce consensus maps that are compressed relative to the mean of the linkage maps. After rescaling, however, the consensus maps had higher accuracy (and higher marker density) than the individual linkage maps in genetic simulations. When applied to four barley linkage maps genotyped at nearly 3000 SNP markers, DAGGER produced a consensus map with improved fine structure compared to the existing barley consensus SNP map. The root-mean-squared error between the linkage maps and the DAGGER map was 0.82 cM per marker interval compared to 2.28 cM for the existing consensus map. Examination of the barley hardness locus at the 5HS telomere, for which there is a physical map, confirmed that the DAGGER output was more accurate for fine structure analysis.


The R package DAGGER is an effective, freely available resource for integrating the information from a set of consistent linkage maps.