ABSTRACT: Fertility is one of the most economically important traits in both beef and dairy cattle production; however, only female fertility is typically subjected to selection. Male and female fertility have only a small positive genetic correlation which is likely due to the existence of a relatively small number of genetic variants within each breed that cause embryonic and developmental losses. Genomic tools have been developed that allow the identification of lethal recessive loci based upon marker haplotypes. Selection against haplotypes harbouring lethal alleles in conjunction with selection to improve female fertility will result in an improvement in male fertility. Genomic selection has resulted in a two to fourfold increase in the rate of genetic improvement of most dairy traits in US Holstein cattle, including female fertility. Considering the rapidly increasing rate of adoption of high-throughput single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping in both the US dairy and beef industries, genomic selection should be the most effective of all currently available approaches to improve male fertility. However, male fertility phenotypes are not routinely recorded in natural service mating systems and when artificial insemination is used, semen doses may be titrated to lower post-thaw progressively motile sperm numbers for high-merit and high-demand bulls. Standardization of sperm dosages across bull studs for semen distributed from young bulls would allow the capture of sire conception rate phenotypes for young bulls that could be used to generate predictions of genetic merit for male fertility in both males and females. These data would allow genomic selection to be implemented for male fertility in addition to female fertility within the US dairy industry. While the rate of use of artificial insemination is much lower within the US beef industry, the adoption of sexed semen in the dairy industry has allowed dairy herds to select cows from which heifer replacements are produced and cows that are used to produce terminal crossbred bull calves sired by beef breed bulls. Capture of sire conception rate phenotypes in dairy herds utilizing sexed semen will contribute data enabling genomic selection for male fertility in beef cattle breeds. As the commercial sector of the beef industry increasingly adopts fixed-time artificial insemination, sire conception rate phenotypes can be captured to facilitate the development of estimates of genetic merit for male fertility within US beef breeds.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Achieving rapid genetic progress while maintaining adequate genetic diversity is one of the main challenges facing the dairy industry. The increase in inbreeding can be used to monitor the loss of genetic diversity. Inbreeding tends to increase the proportion of homozygous loci, some of which cause homozygosity of recessive alleles that results in reduced performance. This phenomenon is known as inbreeding depression and tends to be most prominent on fitness-related traits, such as male fertility. Traditionally, inbreeding has been monitored using pedigree information, or more recently, genomic data. Alternatively, it can be quantified using runs of homozygosity (ROH), i.e., contiguous lengths of homozygous genotypes observed in an individual's chromosome. RESULTS:The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between ROH and sire conception rate. ROH were evaluated using 268?k genetic markers in 11,790 US Holstein bulls. Interestingly, either the sum, mean, or maximum length of ROH were negatively associated with bull fertility. The association analysis between ROH and sire fertility was performed comparing 300 high-fertility vs. 300 low-fertility bulls. Both the average and sum of ROH length were higher in the low-fertility group. The enrichment of ROH regions in bulls with low fertility was assessed using a Fisher's exact test. Nine regions were significantly enriched in low-fertility compared to high-fertility bulls. Notably, these regions harbor genes that are closely related to sperm biology and male fertility, including genes exclusively or highly expressed in testis. CONCLUSIONS:The results of this study can help not only to manage inbreeding in genomic selection programs by designing custom mating schemes, but also to better understand the mechanisms underlying male fertility in dairy cattle.
Project description:Predicting dairy bull fertility is a current challenge for the dairy industry. The goal of this study was to integrate DNA methylation data with previously published RNA sequencing results in order to identify candidate markers for sire fertility. Overall design: Five high-fertility bulls and five low-fertility bulls were used for this study. Sperm samples were subjected to DNA extraction and subsequent whole-genome bisulfite sequencing.
Project description:Cattle are ideally suited to investigate the genetics of male reproduction, because semen quality and fertility are recorded for all ejaculates of artificial insemination bulls. We analysed 26,090 ejaculates of 794 Brown Swiss bulls to assess ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, sperm head and tail anomalies and insemination success. The heritability of the six semen traits was between 0 and 0.26. Genome-wide association testing on 607,511 SNPs revealed a QTL on bovine chromosome 6 that was associated with sperm motility (P = 2.5 x 10-27), head (P = 2.0 x 10-44) and tail anomalies (P = 7.2 x 10-49) and insemination success (P = 9.9 x 10-13). The QTL harbors a recessive allele that compromises semen quality and male fertility. We replicated the effect of the QTL on fertility (P = 7.1 x 10-32) in an independent cohort of 2481 Brown Swiss bulls. The analysis of whole-genome sequencing data revealed that a synonymous variant (BTA6:58373887C>T, rs474302732) in WDR19 encoding WD repeat-containing protein 19 was in linkage disequilibrium with the fertility-associated haplotype. WD repeat-containing protein 19 is a constituent of the intraflagellar transport complex that is essential for the physiological function of motile cilia and flagella. Bioinformatic and transcription analyses revealed that the BTA6:58373887 T-allele activates a cryptic exonic splice site that eliminates three evolutionarily conserved amino acids from WDR19. Western blot analysis demonstrated that the BTA6:58373887 T-allele decreases protein expression. We make the remarkable observation that, in spite of negative effects on semen quality and bull fertility, the BTA6:58373887 T-allele has a frequency of 24% in the Brown Swiss population. Our findings are the first to uncover a variant that is associated with quantitative variation in semen quality and male fertility in cattle.
Project description:Service sire has a considerable impact on reproductive success in dairy cattle. Most gene mapping studies for bull fertility have focused on additive effects, while non-additive effects have been largely ignored. The main goal of this study was to assess the relevance of non-additive effects on Sire Conception Rate (SCR) in Holstein dairy cattle. The analysis included 7.5 k Holstein bulls with both SCR records and 57.8 k single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers spanning the entire genome.The importance of non-additive effects was evaluated using an efficient two-step mixed model-based approach. Four genomic regions located on chromosomes BTA8, BTA9, BTA13 and BTA17 showed marked dominance and/or recessive effects. Most of these regions harbor genes, such as ADAM28, DNAJA1, TBC1D20, SPO11, PIWIL3 and TMEM119, that are directly implicated in testis development, male germ line maintenance, and sperm maturation.This study provides further evidence for the relevance of non-additive effects in fitness-related traits, such as male fertility. In addition, these findings may point out new strategies for improving service sire fertility in dairy cattle via marker-assisted selection.
Project description:Genetic variants underlying reduced male reproductive performance have been identified in humans and model organisms, most of them compromising semen quality. Occasionally, male fertility is severely compromised although semen analysis remains without any apparent pathological findings (i.e., idiopathic subfertility). Artificial insemination (AI) in most cattle populations requires close examination of all ejaculates before insemination. Although anomalous ejaculates are rejected, insemination success varies considerably among AI bulls. In an attempt to identify genetic causes of such variation, we undertook a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Imputed genotypes of 652,856 SNPs were available for 7962 AI bulls of the Fleckvieh (FV) population. Male reproductive ability (MRA) was assessed based on 15.3 million artificial inseminations. The GWAS uncovered a strong association signal on bovine chromosome 19 (P = 4.08 × 10(-59)). Subsequent autozygosity mapping revealed a common 1386 kb segment of extended homozygosity in 40 bulls with exceptionally poor reproductive performance. Only 1.7% of 35,671 inseminations with semen samples of those bulls were successful. None of the bulls with normal reproductive performance was homozygous, indicating recessive inheritance. Exploiting whole-genome re-sequencing data of 43 animals revealed a candidate causal nonsense mutation (rs378652941, c.483C>A, p.Cys161X) in the transmembrane protein 95 encoding gene TMEM95 which was subsequently validated in 1990 AI bulls. Immunohistochemical investigations evidenced that TMEM95 is located at the surface of spermatozoa of fertile animals whereas it is absent in spermatozoa of subfertile animals. These findings imply that integrity of TMEM95 is required for an undisturbed fertilisation. Our results demonstrate that deficiency of TMEM95 severely compromises male reproductive performance in cattle and reveal for the first time a phenotypic effect associated with genomic variation in TMEM95.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Bovine brucellosis is a zoonotic disease that causes substantial economic losses and has a strong impact on public health. The main objective of this paper is to determine the risk factors for new infections of Brucella abortus on Colombian cattle farms previously certified as being free of brucellosis. A case-control study was conducted by comparing 98 cases (farms certified as brucellosis-free for three or more years but became infected) with 93 controls (farms that remained brucellosis-free during at least the previous three years). The farms were matched by herd size and geographical location (municipality). Information was obtained via a questionnaire completed by veterinary officers through a personal interview with the herd owners.<h4>Results</h4>Two-thirds of the herds (67%) were dairy herds, 16% were beef herds, and 17% were dual-purpose (beef and milk) herds. After exploratory univariate analysis, all explanatory variables with a p-value of ?0.20 were included in a logistic regression model using the forward stepwise method to select the model with the best goodness of fit. The significant risk factors were the replacement of animals from farms not certified as brucellosis-free compared to replacement from certified brucellosis-free farms (OR?=?4.84, p-value <?0.001) and beef cattle farms compared to dairy cattle farms (OR?=?3.61, p-value?=?0.017). When herds with and without artificial insemination were compared, it was observed that farms that used natural breeding with bulls from non-certified herds had a higher risk than farms using artificial insemination (OR?=?2.45, p-value?=?0.037), but when the bulls came from brucellosis-free farms, farms with natural breeding were less affected (OR?=?0.30, p-value?=?0.004) than farms using artificial insemination, whether with frozen semen from certified brucellosis-free herds or fresh semen from uncontrolled herds. The latter is commonly sold to neighbouring farms.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The government should make efforts to inform farmers about the risks involved in the introduction of semen and replacement heifers from farms that are not certified as brucellosis-free and to establish measures to control these practices.
Project description:Establishment of pregnancy in cattle is complex and encompasses ovulation, fertilization, blastocyst formation and growth into an elongated conceptus, pregnancy recognition signaling, and development of the embryo and placenta. The objective here was to investigate sire influences on pregnancy establishment in cattle. First, 10 Holstein bulls were classified as high or low fertility based on their sire conception rate (SCR) value. In a field trial, pregnancy at first timed insemination was not different between high and low SCR bulls. Next, 5 of the 10 sires were phenotyped using in vitro and in vivo embryo production. There was no effect of SCR classification on in vitro embryo cleavage rate, but low SCR sires produced fewer day 8 blastocysts. In superovulated heifers, high SCR bulls produced a lower percentage of unfertilized oocytes and fewer degenerated embryos compared to low SCR bulls. Recipient heifers received three to five in vivo produced embryos from either high or low SCR sires on day 7 postestrus. Day 16 conceptus recovery and length were not different between SCR groups, and the conceptus transcriptome was not appreciably different between high and low SCR sires. The reduced ability of embryos from low SCR bulls to establish pregnancy is multifactorial and encompasses sperm fertilizing ability, preimplantation embryonic development, and development of the embryo and placenta after conceptus elongation and pregnancy recognition. These studies highlight the importance of understanding genetic contributions of the sire to pregnancy establishment that is crucial to increase reproductive efficiency in dairy cattle.
Project description:Dairy bulls are evaluated using progeny data and genomic testing to determine the quantity of specific traits that they will pass to their daughters. Some bulls excel in some traits but not others. Specifying these various traits as outputs, with the single input of insemination, technical, revenue, allocative, and profit efficiency of bulls available for artificial insemination are estimated using Free Disposal Hull. Although bulls generally are highly technically efficient, because only high performing bull semen is offered for sale, bulls are less revenue, allocative and profit efficient. These efficiencies are relative to peer bulls and can be updated as new bulls become available.
Project description:Artificial insemination is widely used in many cattle breeding programs. Semen samples of breeding bulls are collected and closely examined immediately after collection at artificial insemination centers. Only ejaculates without anomalous findings are retained for artificial insemination. Although morphological aberrations of the spermatozoa are a frequent reason for discarding ejaculates, the genetic determinants underlying poor semen quality are scarcely understood.A tail stump sperm defect was observed in three bulls of the Swedish Red cattle breed. The spermatozoa of affected bulls were immotile because of severely disorganized tails indicating disturbed spermatogenesis. We genotyped three affected bulls and 18 unaffected male half-sibs at 46,035 SNPs and performed homozygosity mapping to map the fertility disorder to an 8.42 Mb interval on bovine chromosome 13. The analysis of whole-genome re-sequencing data of an affected bull and 300 unaffected animals from eleven cattle breeds other than Swedish Red revealed a 1 bp deletion (Chr13: 24,301,425 bp, ss1815612719) in the eleventh exon of the armadillo repeat containing 3-encoding gene (ARMC3) that was compatible with the supposed recessive mode of inheritance. The deletion is expected to alter the reading frame and to induce premature translation termination (p.A451fs26). The mutated protein is shortened by 401 amino acids (46 %) and lacks domains that are likely essential for normal protein function.We report the phenotypic and genetic characterization of a sterilizing tail stump sperm defect in the Swedish Red cattle breed. Exploiting high-density genotypes and massive re-sequencing data enabled us to identify the most likely causal mutation for the fertility disorder in bovine ARMC3. Our results provide the basis for monitoring the mutated variant in the Swedish Red cattle population and for the early identification of infertile animals.
Project description:The reproductive performance of bulls has a high impact on the beef cattle industry. Scrotal circumference (SC) is the most recorded reproductive trait in beef herds, and is used as a major selection criterion to improve precocity and fertility. The characterization of genomic regions affecting SC can contribute to the identification of diagnostic markers for reproductive performance and uncover molecular mechanisms underlying complex aspects of bovine reproductive biology. In this paper, we report a genome-wide scan for chromosome segments explaining differences in SC, using data of 861 Nellore bulls (Bos indicus) genotyped for over 777,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Loci that excel from the genome background were identified on chromosomes 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 18 and 21. The majority of these regions were previously found to be associated with reproductive and body size traits in cattle. The signal on chromosome 14 replicates the pleiotropic quantitative trait locus encompassing PLAG1 that affects male fertility in cattle and stature in several species. Based on intensive literature mining, SP4, MAGEL2, SH3RF2, PDE5A and SNAI2 are proposed as novel candidate genes for SC, as they affect growth and testicular size in other animal models. These findings contribute to linking reproductive phenotypes to gene functions, and may offer new insights on the molecular biology of male fertility.