Perspectives on Applications of Hierarchical Gene-To-Phenotype (G2P) Maps to Capture Non-stationary Effects of Alleles in Genomic Prediction

Powell OM, Voss-Fels KP, Jordan DR, Hammer G and Cooper M

Frontiers in Plant Science


Genomic prediction of complex traits across environments, breeding cycles, and populations remains a challenge for plant breeding. A potential explanation for this is that underlying non-additive genetic (GxG) and genotype-by-environment (GxE) interactions generate allele substitution effects that are non-stationary across different contexts. Such non-stationary effects of alleles are either ignored or assumed to be implicitly captured by most gene-to-phenotype (G2P) maps used in genomic prediction. The implicit capture of non-stationary effects of alleles requires the G2P map to be re-estimated across different contexts. We discuss the development and application of hierarchical G2P maps that explicitly capture non-stationary effects of alleles and have successfully increased short-term prediction accuracy in plant breeding. These hierarchical G2P maps achieve increases in prediction accuracy by allowing intermediate processes such as other traits and environmental factors and their interactions to contribute to complex trait variation. However, long-term prediction remains a challenge. The plant breeding community should undertake complementary simulation and empirical experiments to interrogate various hierarchical G2P maps that connect GxG and GxE interactions simultaneously. The existing genetic correlation framework can be used to assess the magnitude of non-stationary effects of alleles and the predictive ability of these hierarchical G2P maps in long-term, multi-context genomic predictions of complex traits in plant breeding.