BulkLMM is a Julia package for performing genome scans for multiple traits (in "Bulk" sizes) using linear mixed models (LMMs). It is suitable for eQTL mapping with thousands of traits and markers. BulkLMM also performs permutation testing for LMMs taking into account the relatedness of individuals. We use multi-threading and matrix operations to speed up computations.

The current implementation is for genome scans with one-degree of freedom tests with choices of adding additional covariates. Future releases will cover the scenario of more-than-one degrees of freedom tests.

We consider the case when a univariate trait of interest is measured
in a population of related individuals with kinship matrix

where

where

For a single trait and candidate marker, we use a likelihood ratio test to compare a model with and without the candidate genetic marker (and including the intercept and all background covariates). This process is repeated for each marker to generate the genome scan. The result is reported in LOD (log 10 of likelihood ratio) units.

Users can specify if the variance components should be estimated using ML (maximum likelihood) or REML (restricted maximum likelihood). The scans can be performed with the variance components estimated once under the null, or separately for each marker. The latter approach is slower, but more accurate.

Under the null hypothesis that no individual genetic marker is associated with the trait, traits are correlated according if the kinship matrix is not identity, and the genetic variance component is non-zero. Thus, a standard permutation test where we shuffle the trait data randomly, is not appropriate. Instead, we rotate the data using the eigen decomposition of the kinship matrix, which de-correlates the data, and then shuffle the data after rescaling them by their standard deviations.

Scans for multiple traits are performed by running univariate LMMs for each combination of trait and marker. We are exploring algorithms for optimizing this process by judicious use of approximations.

This package uses multi-threading to speed up some operations. You will have to start Julia with mutliple threads to take advantage of this. You should use as many threads as your computer is capable of. Further speedups may be obtained by spreading (distributing) the computation across mutliple computers.

The package `BulkLMM.jl`

can be installed by running

```
using Pkg
Pkg.add("BulkLMM")
```

To install from the **Julia** REPL, first press `]`

to enter the Pkg
mode and then use:

```
add BulkLMM
```

The most recent release of the package can be obtained by running

```
using Pkg
Pkg.add(url = "https://github.com/senresearch/BulkLMM.jl", rev="main")
```

We demonstrate basic usage of `BulkLMM.jl`

through an example applying
the package on the BXD mouse strains data.

First, after successfully installed the package, load it to the
current *Julia* session by

```
using BulkLMM
using CSV, DelimitedFiles, DataFrames, Statistics
```

The BXD data are accessible through our published github
repo of the `BulkLMM.jl`

package as .csv files under the `data/bxdData`

directory.

The original data for BXD spleen traits `BXDtraits_with_missing.csv`

contains missing
values. We saved the data after removed any missings to the file named "spleen-pheno_nomissing.csv" under the same directory.

```
bulklmmdir = dirname(pathof(BulkLMM));
pheno_file = joinpath(bulklmmdir,"..","data/bxdData/spleen-pheno-nomissing.csv");
pheno = readdlm(pheno_file, ',', header = false);
pheno_processed = pheno[2:end, 2:(end-1)].*1.0; # exclude the header, the first (transcript ID)and the last columns (sex)
```

Required data format for traits should be .csv or .txt files with
values separated by `','`

, with each column being the observations of

Also load the BXD genotypes data. The raw BXD genotypes file
`BXDgeno_prob.csv`

contains even columns that each contains the
complement genotype probabilities of the column immediately preceded
(odd columns). Calling the function `readBXDgeno`

will read the BXD
genotype file excluding the even columns.

```
geno_file = joinpath(bulklmmdir,"..","data/bxdData/spleen-bxd-genoprob.csv");
geno = readdlm(geno_file, ',', header = false);
geno_processed = geno[2:end, 1:2:end] .* 1.0;
```

Required data format for genotypes should be .csv or .txt files with
values separated by `','`

, with each column being the observations of
genotype probabilities of

For the BXD data,

`size(pheno_processed) # (number of strains, number of traits)`

```
(79, 35554)
```

`size(geno_processed) # (number of strains, number of markers)`

```
(79, 7321)
```

Compute the kinship matrix `calcKinship`

`kinship = calcKinship(geno_processed); # calculate K`

`kinship = round.(kinship; digits = 12);`

For example, to conduct genome-wide associations mapping on the
1112-th trait, we can run the function `scan()`

with inputs of the trait (as
a 2D-array of one column), geno matrix, and the kinship matrix. Type `?scan()`

for more
detailed description of the function.

```
traitID = 1112;
pheno_y = reshape(pheno_processed[:, traitID], :, 1);
```

`@time single_results = scan(pheno_y, geno_processed, kinship);`

```
0.059480 seconds (80.86 k allocations: 47.266 MiB)
```

The output `single_results`

is an object containing model results about the variance components (residual variance and the heritability parameter) estimated under the null baseline model, and the lod scores, as the fields named respectively as "sigma2_e", "h2_null", and "lod". By default, variance components are estimated from maximum-likelihood (ML). The user may choose REML for estimating by specifying in the input "reml = true".

```
# VCs: residual variance, heritability which is the proportion of genetic variance to total variance
(single_results.sigma2_e, single_results.h2_null)
```

```
(0.0942525841453798, 0.850587848871709)
```

```
# LOD scores calculated for a single trait under VCs estimated under the null (intercept model)
single_results.lod;
```

`BulkLMM.jl`

supports permutation testing for a single trait GWAS. Simply run the function `scan()`

and set the optional keyword argument `permutation_test = true`

with the required number of permutations as `nperms = # of permutations`

. For example, to ask the package to do a permutation testing of 1000 permutations, do

`@time single_results_perms = scan(pheno_y, geno_processed, kinship; permutation_test = true, nperms = 1000);`

```
0.079464 seconds (94.02 k allocations: 207.022 MiB)
```

Similarly to the results of the single-trait scan with no permutation, `single_results_perms`

contains the fields `sigma2_e`

, `h2_null`

, and `lod`

for the original trait. Additionally, we report the results of permutation tests as the raw LOD scores computed for each permuted copies, which are stored in a matrix named as `L_perms`

of dimension

`size(single_results_perms.L_perms)`

```
(7321, 1000)
```

Based on the results of the permutation test, we can use the function `get_thresholds()`

to obtain the LOD thresholds according to the quantile probabilities, based on the significance levels requested.

For example, if we would like to see the significant LOD scores with significance levels of 0.10 and 0.05, we can run the function `get_thresholds()`

and give raw results of LOD scores from permutation testing and the desired significance (0.10, 0.05). The user can ask for results of as many significance levels as they want. In this case, the function reports the 90th and the 95th quantiles among LOD scores testing all 1000 permuted copies. The results are as follows:

```
lod_thresholds = get_thresholds(single_results_perms.L_perms, [0.10, 0.05]);
round.(lod_thresholds, digits = 4)
```

```
3.3644
3.6504
```

Let's plot the BulkLMM LOD scores of the 1112-th trait and compare with the results from running GEMMA:

Note: to get results from GEMMA, one would need to run GEMMA on a Linux machine with input files of the same trait (here the 1112-th trait, X10339113), genetic markers and the kinship matrix, and finally convert the LRT p-values into corresponding LOD scores. Alternatively, you may simply load the results we obtained by following the procedures mentioned above. The resulting LOD scores from GEMMA are a .txt file in `data/bxdData/GEMMA_BXDTrait1112/gemma_lod_1112.txt`

.

For reproducing this figure, we need to do the following steps:

First, read in the `gmap.csv`

and the `phenocovar.csv`

under `data/bxdData/`

directory as

```
gmap_file = joinpath(bulklmmdir,"..","data/bxdData/gmap.csv");
gInfo = CSV.read(gmap_file, DataFrame);
phenocovar_file = joinpath(bulklmmdir,"..","data/bxdData/phenocovar.csv");
pInfo = CSV.read(phenocovar_file, DataFrame);
```

Next, load the results preprocessed from GEMMA:

```
gemma_results_path = joinpath(bulklmmdir,"..","data/bxdData/GEMMA_BXDTrait1112/gemma_lod_1112.txt")
Lod_gemma = readdlm(gemma_results_path, '\t'); # load gemma LOD scores results available in the package
```

Finally, we use the QTL plotting function from the package `BigRiverQTLPlots.jl`

:

```
using BigRiverQTLPlots
traitName = pInfo[traitID, 1] # get the trait name of the 1112-th trait
plot_QTL(
single_results_perms,
gInfo,
significance= [0.10, 0.05],
legend = true,
label = "BulkLMM.jl",
title = "Single trait $traitName LOD scores"
)
plot_QTL!(
vec(Lod_gemma),
gInfo,
linecolor = :purple,
label = "GEMMA",
legend = :topright
)
```

To get LODs for multiple traits, for better runtime performance, first
start *julia* with multiple threads following Instructions for
starting Julia REPL with
multi-threads
or switch to a multi-threaded *julia* kernel if using Jupyter
notebooks.

Then, run the function `bulkscan()`

with the matrices of the
traits of interest, genome markers, and the kinship. Type `?bulkscan()`

for more
detailed description of the function.

Here, we started a 16-threaded *julia* session in julia version 1.9.2. Specific session info
is as follows:

`versioninfo()`

```
Julia Version 1.9.2
Commit e4ee485e909 (2023-07-05 09:39 UTC)
Platform Info:
OS: Linux (x86_64-linux-gnu)
CPU: 48 × Intel(R) Xeon(R) Silver 4214 CPU @ 2.20GHz
WORD_SIZE: 64
LIBM: libopenlibm
LLVM: libLLVM-14.0.6 (ORCJIT, cascadelake)
Threads: 17 on 48 virtual cores
Environment:
JULIA_NUM_THREADS = 16
```

`@time multiple_results_allTraits = bulkscan(pheno_processed, geno_processed, kinship);`

```
2.112011 seconds (107.94 k allocations: 5.053 GiB, 2.59% gc time)
```

Please Note: the default method and modeling options for `bulkscan()`

takes an approximated approach for
the best runtime performance. The user may choose to use other methods and options provided for more precision but longer runtime, following the detailed instructions in `?bulkscan()`

.

The output `multiple_results_allTraits`

is an object containing our model results:

- the matrix of LOD scores
$L_{p \times m}$ , where$p$ is the number of markers and$m$ is number of traits; each column corresponds to the LOD scores resulting from performing GWAS on each given trait. - variance components (heritability) results will be returned in various formats depending on the specific method and other options by the user. For more details, enter
`?bulkscan()`

.

`size(multiple_results_allTraits.L)`

```
(7321, 35554)
```

To visualize the multiple-trait scan results, we can use the plotting function `plot_eQTL`

from `BigRiverQTLPlots.jl`

to generate the eQTL plot.
In the following example, we only plot the LOD scores that are above 5.0 by calling the function and specifying in the optional argument `threshold = 5.0`

:

`plot_eQTL(multiple_results_allTraits.L, pheno, gInfo, pInfo; threshold = 5.0)`

If you find any bugs, please post an issue on GitHub or contact the maintainer (Zifan Yu) directly. You may also fork the repository and send us a pull request with any contributions you wish to make.

Check out NEWS.md to see what's new in each `BulkLMM.jl`

release.