The objective of this study was to analyze the relevance of relationship information on the identification of low heritability quantitative trait loci (QTLs) from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and on the genomic prediction of complex traits in human, animal and cross-pollinating populations. The simulation-based data sets included 50 samples of 1000 individuals of seven populations derived from a common population with linkage disequilibrium. The populations had non-inbred and inbred progeny structure (50 to 200) with varying number of members (5 to 20). The individuals were genotyped for 10,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and phenotyped for a quantitative trait controlled by 10 QTLs and 90 minor genes showing dominance. The SNP density was 0.1 cM and the narrow sense heritability was 25%. The QTL heritabilities ranged from 1.1 to 2.9%. We applied mixed model approaches for both GWAS and genomic prediction using pedigree-based and genomic relationship matrices. For GWAS, the observed false discovery rate was kept below the significance level of 5%, the power of detection for the low heritability QTLs ranged from 14 to 50%, and the average bias between significant SNPs and a QTL ranged from less than 0.01 to 0.23 cM. The QTL detection power was consistently higher using genomic relationship matrix. Regardless of population and training set size, genomic prediction provided higher prediction accuracy of complex trait when compared to pedigree-based prediction. The accuracy of genomic prediction when there is relatedness between individuals in the training set and the reference population is much higher than the value for unrelated individuals.
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