Genetic trends and trade-offs between growth and reproductive traits in a Nellore herd.
ABSTRACT: The knowledge of genetic trends and trade-offs between growth and reproductive traits might be useful to understand the evolution of these traits in livestock and natural populations of animals. We estimated the genetic trends and trade-offs between pre-weaning growth and calving intervals of Nellore animals from a commercial farm. Two-trait animal models were used to estimate covariance components and breeding values (EBV) for direct and maternal genetic effects of pre-weaning growth and direct genetic effects of calving intervals. Regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between direct and maternal EBV of pre-weaning growth and direct EBV of calving intervals (dependent variables) and the coefficient of generation of each animal (independent variable). We also performed regression analyses to examine the relationship between direct EBV of calving intervals (dependent variables) and direct and maternal EBV of pre-weaning growth (independent variables). The genetic trends for direct and maternal genetic effect for pre-weaning growth were significant and presented genetic evolution in the studied Nellore herd. The genetic trends for the reproductive traits were also significant but indicated genetic changes in an unfavorable way. The genetic correlations between direct effects of pre-weaning growth and calving intervals traits and the genetic correlations between maternal effects of pre-weaning growth traits and direct effects of calving interval traits were not different from zero. The presence of trade-offs between the direct effects of growth and reproductive traits were confirmed through regression from direct EBV of calving intervals over EBV of pre-weaning growth traits. In addition, regression analyses showed that selection to increase pre-weaning growth also increased calving intervals. Our results showed that pre-weaning growth and calving intervals are increasing over generations and that trade-offs occurred between those traits in the studied Nellore herd.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Birth weight (BW) is an economically important trait in beef cattle, and is associated with growth- and stature-related traits and calving difficulty. One region of the cattle genome, located on Bos primigenius taurus chromosome 14 (BTA14), has been previously shown to be associated with stature by multiple independent studies, and contains orthologous genes affecting human height. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) for BW in Brazilian Nellore cattle (Bos primigenius indicus) was performed using estimated breeding values (EBVs) of 654 progeny-tested bulls genotyped for over 777,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). RESULTS: The most significant SNP (rs133012258, PGC = 1.34 × 10-9), located at BTA14:25376827, explained 4.62% of the variance in BW EBVs. The surrounding 1 Mb region presented high identity with human, pig and mouse autosomes 8, 4 and 4, respectively, and contains the orthologous height genes PLAG1, CHCHD7, MOS, RPS20, LYN, RDHE2 (SDR16C5) and PENK. The region also overlapped 28 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) previously reported in literature by linkage mapping studies in cattle, including QTLs for birth weight, mature height, carcass weight, stature, pre-weaning average daily gain, calving ease, and gestation length. CONCLUSIONS: This study presents the first GWAS applying a high-density SNP panel to identify putative chromosome regions affecting birth weight in Nellore cattle. These results suggest that the QTLs on BTA14 associated with body size in taurine cattle (Bos primigenius taurus) also affect birth weight and size in zebu cattle (Bos primigenius indicus).
Project description:BACKGROUND: Nellore cattle play an important role in beef production in tropical systems and there is great interest in determining if genomic selection can contribute to accelerate genetic improvement of production and fertility in this breed. We present the first results of the implementation of genomic prediction in a Bos indicus (Nellore) population. METHODS: Influential bulls were genotyped with the Illumina Bovine HD chip in order to assess genomic predictive ability for weight and carcass traits, gestation length, scrotal circumference and two selection indices. 685 samples and 320 238 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were used in the analyses. A forward-prediction scheme was adopted to predict the genomic breeding values (DGV). In the training step, the estimated breeding values (EBV) of bulls were deregressed (dEBV) and used as pseudo-phenotypes to estimate marker effects using four methods: genomic BLUP with or without a residual polygenic effect (GBLUP20 and GBLUP0, respectively), a mixture model (Bayes C) and Bayesian LASSO (BLASSO). Empirical accuracies of the resulting genomic predictions were assessed based on the correlation between DGV and dEBV for the testing group. RESULTS: Accuracies of genomic predictions ranged from 0.17 (navel at weaning) to 0.74 (finishing precocity). Across traits, Bayesian regression models (Bayes C and BLASSO) were more accurate than GBLUP. The average empirical accuracies were 0.39 (GBLUP0), 0.40 (GBLUP20) and 0.44 (Bayes C and BLASSO). Bayes C and BLASSO tended to produce deflated predictions (i.e. slope of the regression of dEBV on DGV greater than 1). Further analyses suggested that higher-than-expected accuracies were observed for traits for which EBV means differed significantly between two breeding subgroups that were identified in a principal component analysis based on genomic relationships. CONCLUSIONS: Bayesian regression models are of interest for future applications of genomic selection in this population, but further improvements are needed to reduce deflation of their predictions. Recurrent updates of the training population would be required to enable accurate prediction of the genetic merit of young animals. The technical feasibility of applying genomic prediction in a Bos indicus (Nellore) population was demonstrated. Further research is needed to permit cost-effective selection decisions using genomic information.
Project description:Calving in cattle is affected by calf morphology and by dam characteristics. It is described by two different traits: maternal calving ease, which is the ability to generate dams with good physiological predisposition to calving, and direct calving ease, which is the ability to generate calves that are easily born. The aim of this study was to identify regions of cattle genome harboring genes possibly affecting direct calving ease in the Piedmontese cattle breed. A population of 323 bulls scored for direct calving ease (EBV) was analyzed by a medium-density SNP marker panel (54,001 SNPs) to perform a genome-wide scan. The strongest signal was detected on chromosome 6 between 37.8 and 38.7 Mb where 13 SNPs associated to direct calving ease were found. Three genes are located in this region: LAP3, encoding for a leucine aminopeptidase involved in the oxytocin hydrolysis; NCAPG, encoding for a non-SMC condensin I complex, which has been associated in cattle with fetal growth and carcass size; and LCORL, which has been associated to height in humans and cattle. To further confirm the results of the genome-wide scan we genotyped additional SNPs within these genes and analyzed their association with direct calving ease. The results of this additional analysis fully confirmed the findings of the GWAS and particularly indicated LAP3 as the most probable gene involved. Linkage Disequilibrium (LD) analysis showed high correlation between SNPs located within LAP3 and LCORL indicating a possible selection signature due either to increased fitness or breeders' selection for the trait.
Project description:Identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying complex, low-heritability traits is notoriously difficult. Prototypical for such traits, calving ease is an important breeding objective of cattle (Bos taurus)-improving programs. To identify QTL underlying calving ease, we performed a genome-wide association study using estimated breeding values (EBVs) as highly heritable phenotypes for paternal calving ease (pCE) and related traits. The massively structured study population consisted of 1800 bulls of the German Fleckvieh (FV) breed. Two pCE-associated regions on bovine chromosomes (BTA) 14 and 21 (P = 5.72 × 10(-15) and P = 2.27 × 10(-8), respectively) were identified using principal components analysis to correct for population stratification. The two most significantly associated SNPs explain 10% of the EBV variation. Since marker alleles with negative effect on pCE have positive effects on growth-related traits, the QTL may exert their effects on the birthing process through fetal growth traits. The QTL region on BTA14 corresponds to a human chromosome (HSA) region that is associated with growth characteristics. The HSA region corresponding to the BTA21 pCE QTL is maternally imprinted and involved in the Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes. Resequencing of positional candidate genes on BTA14 revealed a highly significantly (P = 1.96 × 10(-14)) associated polymorphism ablating a polyadenylation signal of the gene encoding ribosomal protein S20 (RPS20). Our study demonstrates the leverage potential of EBVs in unraveling the genetic architecture of lowly heritable traits.
Project description:The focus in dairy cattle breeding is gradually shifting from production to functional traits and genetic parameters of calving traits are estimated more frequently. However, across countries, various statistical models are used to estimate these parameters. This study evaluates different models for calving ease and stillbirth in United Kingdom Holstein-Friesian cattle.Data from first and later parity records were used. Genetic parameters for calving ease, stillbirth and gestation length were estimated using the restricted maximum likelihood method, considering different models i.e. sire (-maternal grandsire), animal, univariate and bivariate models. Gestation length was fitted as a correlated indicator trait and, for all three traits, genetic correlations between first and later parities were estimated. Potential bias in estimates was avoided by acknowledging a possible environmental direct-maternal covariance. The total heritable variance was estimated for each trait to discuss its theoretical importance and practical value. Prediction error variances and accuracies were calculated to compare the models.On average, direct and maternal heritabilities for calving traits were low, except for direct gestation length. Calving ease in first parity had a significant and negative direct-maternal genetic correlation. Gestation length was maternally correlated to stillbirth in first parity and directly correlated to calving ease in later parities. Multi-trait models had a slightly greater predictive ability than univariate models, especially for the lowly heritable traits. The computation time needed for sire (-maternal grandsire) models was much smaller than for animal models with only small differences in accuracy. The sire (-maternal grandsire) model was robust when additional genetic components were estimated, while the equivalent animal model had difficulties reaching convergence.For the evaluation of calving traits, multi-trait models show a slight advantage over univariate models. Extended sire models (-maternal grandsire) are more practical and robust than animal models. Estimated genetic parameters for calving traits of UK Holstein cattle are consistent with literature. Calculating an aggregate estimated breeding value including direct and maternal values should encourage breeders to consider both direct and maternal effects in selection decisions.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Twenty-four pregnant Nellore primiparous grazing cows were used to evaluate the effects of energy-protein supplementation and supplementation frequency during pre (105 d before calving) and postpartum (105 d after calving) on performance and metabolic characteristics. METHODS:Experimental treatments consisted of a control (no supplementation), daily supplementation (1.5 kg/d of concentrate/animal) and infrequent supplementation (4.5 kg of concentrate/animal every three days). During the pre and postpartum periods, concentrations of blood metabolites and animal performance were evaluated. Ureagenesis and energy metabolism markers were evaluated at prepartum period. RESULTS:Supplementation frequency did not alter (p>0.10) body weight (BW), average daily gain (ADG), and carcass traits during pre and postpartum. The BW (p = 0.079), adjusted BW at day of parturition (p = 0.078), and ADG (p = 0.074) were greater for supplemented cows during the prepartum. The body condition score (BCS; p = 0.251), and carcass traits (p>0.10) were not affected by supplementation during prepartum. On postpartum, supplementation did not affect animal performance and carcass traits (p>0.10). The dry mater intake was not affected (p>0.10) by supplementation and supplementation frequency throughout the experimental period. Daily supplemented animals had greater (p<0.001) glucose levels than animals supplemented every three days. Supplementation and supplementation frequency did not alter (p>0.10) the levels of blood metabolites, neither the abundance of ureagenesis nor energy metabolism markers. CONCLUSION:In summary, our data show that the reduction of supplementation frequency does not cause negative impacts on performance and metabolic characteristics of primiparous grazing cows during the prepartum.
Project description:Two complementary methods, namely Multi-Trait Meta-Analysis and Versatile Gene-Based Test for Genome-wide Association Studies (VEGAS), were used to identify putative pleiotropic genes affecting carcass traits in Bos indicus (Nellore) cattle. The genotypic data comprised over 777,000 single-nucleotide polymorphism markers scored in 995 bulls, and the phenotypic data included deregressed breeding values (dEBV) for weight measurements at birth, weaning and yearling, as well visual scores taken at weaning and yearling for carcass finishing precocity, conformation and muscling. Both analyses pointed to the pleomorphic adenoma gene 1 (PLAG1) as a major pleiotropic gene. VEGAS analysis revealed 224 additional candidates. From these, 57 participated, together with PLAG1, in a network involved in the modulation of the function and expression of IGF1 (insulin like growth factor 1), IGF2 (insulin like growth factor 2), GH1 (growth hormone 1), IGF1R (insulin like growth factor 1 receptor) and GHR (growth hormone receptor), suggesting that those pleiotropic genes operate as satellite regulators of the growth pathway.
Project description:Genealogy and productive information of 48621 dual-purpose buffaloes born in Colombia between years 1996 and 2014 was used. The following traits were assessed using one-trait models: milk yield at 270 days (MY270), age at first calving (AFC), weaning weight (WW), and weights at the following ages: first year (W12), 18 months (W18), and 2 years (W24). Direct additive genetic and residual random effects were included in all the traits. Maternal permanent environmental and maternal additive genetic effects were included for WW and W12. The fixed effects were: contemporary group (for all traits), sex (for WW, W12, W18, and W24), parity (for WW, W12, and MY270). Age was included as covariate for WW, W12, W18 and W24. Principal component analysis (PCA) was conducted using the genetic values of 133 breeding males whose breeding-value reliability was higher than 50% for all the traits in order to define the number of principal components (PC) which would explain most of the variation. The highest heritabilities were for W18 and MY270, and the lowest for AFC; with 0.53, 0.23, and 0.17, respectively. The first three PCs represented 66% of the total variance. Correlation of the first PC with meat production traits was higher than 0.73, and it was -0.38 with AFC. Correlations of the second PC with maternal genetic component traits for WW and W12 were above 0.75. The third PC had 0.84 correlation with MY270. PCA is an alternative approach for analyzing traits in dual-purpose buffaloes and reduces the dimension of the traits.
Project description:The objective of this study was to identify genomic regions that are associated with meat quality traits in the Nellore breed. Nellore steers were finished in feedlots and slaughtered at a commercial slaughterhouse. This analysis included 1,822 phenotypic records of tenderness and 1,873 marbling records. After quality control, 1,630 animals genotyped for tenderness, 1,633 animals genotyped for marbling, and 369,722 SNPs remained. The results are reported as the proportion of variance explained by windows of 150 adjacent SNPs. Only windows with largest effects were considered. The genomic regions were located on chromosomes 5, 15, 16 and 25 for marbling and on chromosomes 5, 7, 10, 14 and 21 for tenderness. These windows explained 3,89% and 3,80% of the additive genetic variance for marbling and tenderness, respectively. The genes associated with the traits are related to growth, muscle development and lipid metabolism. The study of these genes in Nellore cattle is the first step in the identification of causal mutations that will contribute to the genetic evaluation of the breed.
Project description:The detection of quantitative trait loci has accelerated with recent developments in genomics. The introduction of genomic selection in combination with sequencing efforts has made a large amount of genotypic data available. Functional traits such as fertility and calving traits have been included in routine genomic estimation of breeding values making large quantities of phenotypic data available for these traits. This data was used to investigate the genetics underlying fertility and calving traits and to identify potentially causative genomic regions and variants. We performed genome-wide association studies for 13 functional traits related to female fertility as well as for direct and maternal calving ease based on imputed whole-genome sequences. Deregressed breeding values from ~1000-5000 bulls per trait were used to test for associations with approximately 10 million imputed sequence SNPs.We identified a QTL on BTA17 associated with non-return rate at 56 days and with interval from first to last insemination. We found two significantly associated non-synonymous SNPs within this QTL region. Two more QTL for fertility traits were identified on BTA25 and 29. A single QTL was identified for maternal calving traits on BTA13 whereas three QTL on BTA19, 21 and 25 were identified for direct calving traits. The QTL on BTA19 co-localizes with the reported BH2 haplotype. The QTL on BTA25 is concordant for fertility and calving traits and co-localizes with a QTL previously reported to influence stature and related traits in Brown Swiss dairy cattle.The detection of QTL and their causative variants remains challenging. Combining comprehensive phenotypic data with imputed whole genome sequences seems promising. We present a QTL on BTA17 for female fertility in dairy cattle with two significantly associated non-synonymous SNPs, along with five additional QTL for fertility traits and calving traits. For all of these we fine mapped the regions and suggest candidate genes and candidate variants.