PT - JOURNAL ARTICLE
AU - Gianola, Daniel
TI - Priors in Whole-Genome Regression: The Bayesian Alphabet Returns
AID - 10.1534/genetics.113.151753
DP - 2013 Jul 01
TA - Genetics
PG - 573--596
VI - 194
IP - 3
4099 - http://www.genetics.org/content/194/3/573.short
4100 - http://www.genetics.org/content/194/3/573.full
SO - Genetics2013 Jul 01; 194
AB - Whole-genome enabled prediction of complex traits has received enormous attention in animal and plant breeding and is making inroads into human and even Drosophila genetics. The term “Bayesian alphabet” denotes a growing number of letters of the alphabet used to denote various Bayesian linear regressions that differ in the priors adopted, while sharing the same sampling model. We explore the role of the prior distribution in whole-genome regression models for dissecting complex traits in what is now a standard situation with genomic data where the number of unknown parameters (p) typically exceeds sample size (n). Members of the alphabet aim to confront this overparameterization in various manners, but it is shown here that the prior is always influential, unless n ≫ p. This happens because parameters are not likelihood identified, so Bayesian learning is imperfect. Since inferences are not devoid of the influence of the prior, claims about genetic architecture from these methods should be taken with caution. However, all such procedures may deliver reasonable predictions of complex traits, provided that some parameters (“tuning knobs”) are assessed via a properly conducted cross-validation. It is concluded that members of the alphabet have a room in whole-genome prediction of phenotypes, but have somewhat doubtful inferential value, at least when sample size is such that n ≪ p.