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Linear models for diallel crosses: a review with R functions
Tuesday, 2021/02/23 | 08:38:01

Andrea OnofriNiccolò Terzaroli & Luigi Russi

Theoretical and Applied Genetics February 2021; vol. 134: 585–601

Key message

A new R-software procedure for fixed/random Diallel models was developed. We eased the diallel schemes approach by considering them as specific cases with different parameterisations of a general linear model.


Diallel experiments are based on a set of possible crosses between some homozygous (inbred) lines. For these experiments, six main diallel models are available in literature, to quantify genetic effects, such as general combining ability (GCA), specific combining ability (SCA), reciprocal (maternal) effects and heterosis. Those models tend to be presented as separate entities, to be fitted by using specialised software. In this manuscript, we reinforce the idea that diallel models should be better regarded as specific cases (different parameterisations) of a general linear model and might be fitted with general purpose software facilities, as used for all other types of linear models. We start from the estimation of fixed genetical effects within the R environment and try to bridge the gap between diallel models, linear models and ordinary least squares estimation (OLS). First, we review the main diallel models in literature. Second, we build a set of tools to enable geneticists, plant/animal breeders and students to fit diallel models by using the most widely known R functions for OLS fitting, i.e. the ‘lm()’ function and related methods. Here, we give three examples to show how diallel models can be built by using the typical process of GLMs and fitted, inspected and processed as all other types of linear models in R. Finally, we give a fourth example to show how our tools can be also used to fit random/mixed effect diallel models in the Bayesian framework.


See: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-020-03716-8

Figure 1: Graphical inspection of residuals for a diallel model: plot of residuals against expected values (left) and QQ-plot of standardised residuals (right)

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