Skip to main content Accessibility help

Genetic parameters and genome-wide associations of twinning rate in a local breed, the Maremmana cattle

  • B. Moioli (a1), R. Steri (a1), C. Marchitelli (a1), G. Catillo (a1) and L. Buttazzoni (a1)...


This study seeks to verify the feasibility of increasing twinning in a herd of the Italian autochtonous Maremmana breed. The data set included 1260 individuals born from 1963 to 2014, 527 males and 733 females, 402 of them calving at least once from 1983 through 2015. Breeding values for twinning were estimated by a single-trait linear animal model. However, since twinning is a dichotomous trait and the frequency of twins is far smaller than the frequency of single births, breeding values were also estimated by a single-trait animal threshold model. Heritability of twinning was 0.014±0.018 and 0.062±0.093 for the linear and the threshold models, respectively. Repeatability was 0.071±0.004 and 0.286± 0.012, respectively, for the two models. Genotyping with the Illumina BovineSNP54 BeadChip was performed for cows living on farm in 2012 (119 cows) and a genome-wide association analysis was performed on the corrected phenotype of all calving during the lifespan of each cow, using the GenABEL package in R and a three step GRAMMAR-GC approach. Genomic heritability, calculated from the genomic kinship matrix estimated through genomic marker data, was 0.29±0.021. The most significant detected single nucleotide polymorphisms (Hapmap22923-BTA-129564) was located in proximity of two genes, ARHGAP8 and TMEM200C, which might be potential functional candidates for twinning rate in cattle.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Aulchenko, YS, Ripke, S, Isaacs, A and van Duijn, CM 2007. GenABEL: an R package for genome-wide association analysis. Bioinformatics 23, 12941296.
Catalano, RD, Critchley, HO, Heikinheimo, O, Baird, DT, Hapangama, D, Sherwin, JRA, Charnock-Jones, DS, Smith, SK and Sharkey, AM 2007. Mifepristone induced progesterone withdrawal reveals novel regulatory pathways in human endometrium. Molecular Human Reproduction 13, 641654.
Crisà, A, Marchitelli, C, Pariset, L, Contarini, G, Signorelli, F, Napolitano, F, Catillo, G, Valentini, A and Moioli, B 2010. Exploring polymorphisms and effects of candidate genes on milk fat quality in dairy sheep. Journal of Dairy Science 93, 38343845.
Echternkamp, SE and Gregory, KE 1999. Effects of twinning on postpartum reproductive performance in cattle selected for twin births. Journal of Animal Science 77, 4860.
Ekine, CC, Rowe, SJ, Bishop, SC and de Koning, DJ 2014. Why breeding values estimated using familial data should not be used for genome-wide association studies. G3-Genes, Genomes, Genetics 4, 341347.
FAO 2014. Statistical yearbook. Retrieved on 10 February 2017 from
Ghavi Hossein-Zadeh, N, Nejati-Javaremi, A, Miraei-Ashtiani, SR and Kohram, H 2009. Estimation of variance components and genetic trends for twinning rate in Holstein dairy cattle of Iran. Journal of Dairy Science 92, 34113421.
Gregory, KE, Bennett, GL, van Vleck, LD, Echternkamp, SE and Cundiff, LV 1997. Genetic and environmental parameters for ovulation rate, twinning rate, and weight traits in a cattle population selected for twinning. Journal of Animal Science 75, 12131222.
Hancock, J 1954. Monozygotic twins in cattle in Advances in Genetics (pp. 141181. Academic Press, New York, NY, USA.
Johansson, I, Lindhé, B and Pirchner, F 1974. Causes of variation in the frequency of monozygous and dizygous twinning in various breeds of cattle. Hereditas 78, 201234.
Khatkar, M, Zenger, KR, Hobbas, M, Hawken, R, Cavanagh, JA, Barris, W, McClintock, A, McClintock, S, Thomson, P, Tier, B, Nicholas, F and Raadsma, HW 2007. A primary assembly of a bovine haplotype block map based on a 15036-single-nucleotide polymorphism panel genotyped in Holstein–Friesian cattle. Genetics 176, 763772.
Kirkpatrick, BW 2002. Management of twinning cow herds. Journal of Animal Science 80 (suppl. 2), E14E18.
Kirkpatrick, BW and Morris, C 2015. A major gene for bovine ovulation rate. PLoS One 10, e0129025.
Komisarek, J and Dorynek, Z 2002. Genetic aspects of twinning in cattle. Journal of Applied Genetics 43, 5568.
Madsen, P and Jensen, J 2013. A user’s guide to DMU. A package for analysing multivariate mixed models, version 6, release 5.2. Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, University of Aarhus, Tjele, Denmark.
Moioli, B, Scatà, MC, Steri, R, Napolitano, F and Catillo, G 2013. Signatures of selection identify loci associated with milk yield in sheep. BMC Genetics 14, 76.
Moorad, J and Promislow, D 2011. Evolutionary demography and quantitative genetics: age-specific survival as a threshold trait. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278, 144151.
Odani, M, Narita, A, Watanabe, T, Yokouchi, K, Sugimoto, Y, Fujita, T, Oguni, T, Matsumoto, M and Sasaki, Y 2006. Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium in two Japanese beef cattle breeds. Animal Genetics 37, 139144.
Panagiotu, OA and Ioannidis, PA 2012. What should the genome-wide significance threshold be? Empirical replication of borderline genetic associations. International Journal of Epidemiology 41, 273286.
Ron, M, Ezra, E and Weller, JI 1990. Genetic analysis of twinning rate in Israeli Holstein cattle. Genetics Selection Evolution 22, 349359.
Su, G, Lund, MS and Sorensen, D 2007. Selection for litter size at day five to improve litter size at weaning and piglet survival rate. Journal of Animal Science 85, 13851392.
Syrstad, O 1984. Inheritance of multiple births in cattle. Livestock Production Science 11, 373380.
The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2007. Genome-wide association study of 14,000 cases of seven common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature 447, 661678.
Van Tassell, CP, Van Vleck, LD and Gregory, KE 1998. Bayesian analysis of twinning and ovulation rates using a multiple-trait threshold model and Gibbs sampling. Journal of Animal Science 76, 20482061.
Van Vleck, LD and Gregory, KE 1996. Genetic trend and environmental effects in a population of cattle selected for twinning. Journal of Animal Science 74, 522528.
Van Vleck, LD, Gregory, KE and Echternkamp, SE 1991. Ovulation rate and twinning rate in cattle: heritabilities and genetic correlation. Journal of Animal Science 69, 32133219.
Vinet, A, Drouilhet, L, Bodin, L, Mulsant, P, Fabre, S and Phocas, F 2012. Genetic control of multiple births in low ovulating mammalian species. Mammalian Genome 23, 727740.
Weller, JI, Golik, M, Seroussi, E, Ron, M and Ezra, E 2008. Detection of quantitative trait loci affecting twinning rate in Israeli Holsteins by the daughter design. Journal of Dairy Science 91, 24692474.
Zaitlen, N, Pasaniuc, B, Sankararaman, S, Bhatia, G, Zhang, J, Gusev, A, Young, T, Tandon, A, Pollack, S, Vilhjálmsson, BJ, Assimes, TL, Berndt, SI, Blot, WJ, Chanock, S, Franceschini, N, Goodman, PG, He, J, Hennis, AJM, Hsing, A, Ingles, SA, Isaacs, W, Kittles, RA, Klein, EA, Lange, LA, Nemesure, BN, Patterson, N, Reich, D, Rybicki, BA, Stanford, JL, Stevens, VL, Strom, SS, Whitsel, EA, Witte, JS, Xu, J, Haiman, C, Wilson, JG, Kooperberg, C, Stram, D, Reiner, AP, Tang, H and Price, AL 2014. Leveraging population admixture to characterize the heritability of complex traits. Nature Genetics 46, 13561362.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Genetic parameters and genome-wide associations of twinning rate in a local breed, the Maremmana cattle

  • B. Moioli (a1), R. Steri (a1), C. Marchitelli (a1), G. Catillo (a1) and L. Buttazzoni (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.