Integrating parental phenotypic data enhances prediction accuracy of hybrids in wheat traits
Genomic selection (GS) is a methodology that is revolutionizing plant breeding because it can select candidate genotypes without phenotypic evaluation in the field. However, its practical implementation in hybrid prediction remains challenging since many factors affect its accuracy. The main objective of this study was to research the genomic prediction accuracy of wheat hybrids by adding covariates with the hybrid parental phenotypic information to the model. Four types of different models (MA, MB, MC, and MD) with one covariate (same trait to be predicted) (MA_C, MB_C, MC_C, and MD_C) or several covariates (of the same trait and other correlated traits) (MA_AC, MB_AC, MC_AC, and MD_AC) were studied. We found that the four models with parental information outperformed models without parental information in terms of mean square error by at least 14.1% (MA vs. MA_C), 5.5% (MB vs. MB_C), 51.4% (MC vs. MC_C), and 6.4% (MD vs. MD_C) when parental information of the same trait was used and by at least 13.7% (MA vs. MA_AC), 5.3% (MB vs. MB_AC), 55.1% (MC vs. MC_AC), and 6.0% (MD vs. MD_AC) when parental information of the same trait and other correlated traits were used. Our results also show a large gain in prediction accuracy when covariates were considered using the parental phenotypic information, as opposed to marker information. Finally, our results empirically demonstrate that a significant improvement in prediction accuracy was gained by adding parental phenotypic information as covariates; however, this is expensive since, in many breeding programs, the parental phenotypic information is unavailable.