In multiple quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, a high-dimensional sparse regression model is usually employed to account for possible multiple linked QTLs. The QTL model may include closely linked and thus highly correlated genetic markers, especially when high-density marker maps are used in QTL mapping because of the advancement in sequencing technology. Although existing algorithms, such as Lasso, empirical Bayesian Lasso (EBlasso) and elastic net (EN) are available to infer such QTL models, more powerful methods are highly desirable to detect more QTLs in the presence of correlated QTLs. We developed a novel empirical Bayesian EN (EBEN) algorithm for multiple QTL mapping that inherits the efficiency of our previously developed EBlasso algorithm. Simulation results demonstrated that EBEN provided higher power of detection and almost the same false discovery rate compared with EN and EBlasso. Particularly, EBEN can identify correlated QTLs that the other two algorithms may fail to identify. When analyzing a real dataset, EBEN detected more effects than EN and EBlasso. EBEN provides a useful tool for inferring high-dimensional sparse model in multiple QTL mapping and other applications. An R software package 'EBEN' implementing the EBEN algorithm is available on the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN).
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