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An experiment of divergent selection for intramuscular fat was carried out at Universitat Politècnica de València. The high response of selection in intramuscular fat content, after nine generations of selection, and a multidimensional scaling analysis showed a high degree of genomic differentiation between the two divergent populations. Therefore, local genomic differences could link genomic regions, encompassing selective sweeps, to the trait used as selection criterion. In this sense, the aim of this study was to identify genomic regions related to intramuscular fat through three methods for detection of selection signatures and to generate a list of candidate genes. The methods implemented in this study were Wright’s fixation index, cross population composite likelihood ratio and cross population – extended haplotype homozygosity. Genomic data came from the 9th generation of the two populations divergently selected, 237 from Low line and 240 from High line. A high single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density array, Affymetrix Axiom OrcunSNP Array (around 200k SNPs), was used for genotyping samples. Several genomic regions distributed along rabbit chromosomes (OCU) were identified as signatures of selection (SNPs having a value above cut-off of 1%) within each method. In contrast, 8 genomic regions, harbouring 80 SNPs (OCU1, OCU3, OCU6, OCU7, OCU16 and OCU17), were identified by at least 2 methods and none by the 3 methods. In general, our results suggest that intramuscular fat selection influenced multiple genomic regions which can be a consequence of either only selection effect or the combined effect of selection and genetic drift. In addition, 73 genes were retrieved from the 8 selection signatures. After functional and enrichment analyses, the main genes into the selection signatures linked to energy, fatty acids, carbohydrates and lipid metabolic processes were ACER2, PLIN2, DENND4C, RPS6, RRAGA (OCU1), ST8SIA6, VIM (OCU16), RORA, GANC and PLA2G4B (OCU17). This genomic scan is the first study using rabbits from a divergent selection experiment. Our results pointed out a large polygenic component of the intramuscular fat content. Besides, promising positional candidate genes would be analysed in further studies in order to bear out their contributions to this trait and their feasible implications for rabbit breeding programmes.
The use of diets with increased fibre content from alternative feedstuffs less digestible for pigs is a solution considered to limit the impact of increased feed costs on pig production. This study aimed at determining the impact of an alternative diet on genetic parameters for growth, feed efficiency, carcass composition and meat quality traits. A total of 783 Large White pigs were fed a high-fibre (HF) diet and 880 of their sibs were fed a conventional (CO) cereal-based diet. Individual daily feed intake, average daily gain, feed conversion ratio and residual feed intake were recorded as well as lean meat percentage (LMP), carcass yield (CY) and meat quality traits. Pigs fed the CO diet had better performances for growth and feed efficiency than pigs fed the HF diet. They also had lower LMP and higher CY. In addition, pigs fed the CO diet had lower loin percentage and ham percentage and higher backfat percentage. No differences were observed in meat quality traits between diets, except for a* and b* values. For all traits, the genetic variances and heritability were not different between diets. Genetic correlations for traits between diets ranged between 0.80 ± 0.13 and 0.99 ± not estimable, and none were significantly different from 0.99, except for LMP. Thus, traits in both diets were considered as mainly affected by similar sets of genes in the two diets. A genetic correlation lower than 0.80 would justify redesigning the breeding scheme; however, some genetic correlations did not differ significantly from 0.80 either. Therefore, larger populations are needed for a more definitive answer regarding the design of the breeding scheme. To further evaluate selection strategies, a production index was computed within diets for the 29 sires with estimated breeding value reliability higher than 0.35. The rank correlation between indices estimated in the CO and in the HF diet was 0.72. Altogether, we concluded that limited interaction between feed and genetics could be evidenced, and based on these results there is no need to change pig selection schemes to adapt to the future increased use of alternative feedstuffs in production farms.
Remarkable increases in the production of dairy animals have negatively impacted their tolerance to heat stress (HS). The evaluation of the effect of HS on milk yield is based on the direct impact of HS on performance. However, in practical terms, HS also exerts its influence during gestation (indirect effect). The main purpose of this study was to identify and characterize the genotype by environment interaction (G × E) due to HS during the last 60 days of gestation (THI_g) and also the HS postpartum (THI_m) over first lactation milk production of Brazilian Holstein cattle. A total of 389 127 test day milk yield (TD) records from 1572 first lactation Holstein cows born in Brazil (daughters of 1248 dams and 70 sires) and the corresponding temperature–humidity index (THI) obtained between December 2007 and January 2013 were analyzed using different random regression models. Cows in the cold environment (THI_g = 64 to 73) during the last 60 days of gestation produced more milk than those cows in a hot environment (THI_g = 74 to 84), particularly during the first 150 days of lactation (DIM). The heritabilities (h2) of TD were similar throughout DIM for cows in THI_g hot (0.11 to 0.20) or (0.10 to 0.22), while the genetic correlations (rg) for TD between these two environments ranged from 0.11 to 0.52 along the first 250 DIM. The h2 estimates for TD across THI_m were similar for cows in THI_g hot (0.07 to 0.25) and THI_g cold (0.08 to 0.19). The rg estimates ranged from 0.17 to 0.42 along THI_m between TD of cows in cold and hot THI_g. The results were consistent in demonstrating the existence of an additional source of G × E for TD due to THI_g and THI_m. The present study is probably the first to provide evidence of this source of G × E; further research is needed because of its importance when the breeding objective is to select animals that are more tolerant to HS.
Less than 2% of mammalian genomes code for proteins, but ‘the majority of its bases can be found in primary transcripts’ – a phenomenon termed the pervasive transcription, which was first reported in 2007. Even though most of the transcripts do not code for proteins, they play a variety of biological functions, with regulation of gene expression appearing as the most common one. Those transcripts are divided into two groups based on their length: small non-coding RNAs, which are maximally 200 bp long, and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which are longer than 200 nucleotides. The advances in next-generation sequencing methods provided a new possibility of investigating the full set of RNA molecules in the cell. In this review, we summarized the current state of knowledge on lncRNAs in three major livestock species – Sus scrofa, Bos taurus and Gallus gallus, based on the literature and the content of biological databases. In the NONCODE database, the largest number of identified lncRNA transcripts is available for pigs, but cattle have the largest number of lncRNA genes. Poultry is represented by less than a half of records. Genomic annotation of lncRNAs showed that the majority of them are assigned to introns (pig, poultry) or intergenic (cattle). The comparison with well-annotated human and mouse genomes indicates that such annotation is a result of lack of proper lncRNA annotation data. Since lncRNAs play an important role in genomic studies, their characterization in farm animals’ genomes is critical in bridging the gap between genotype and phenotype.
In the mink industry, feed costs are the largest variable expense and breeding for feed efficient animals is warranted. Implementation of selection for feed efficiency must consider the relationships between feed efficiency and the current selection traits BW and litter size. Often, feed intake (FI) is recorded on a cage with a male and a female and there is sexual dimorphism that needs to be accounted for. Study aims were to (1) model group recorded FI accounting for sexual dimorphism, (2) derive genetic residual feed intake (RFI) as a measure of feed efficiency, (3) examine the relationship between feed efficiency and BW in males (BWM) and females (BWF) and litter size at day 21 after whelping (LS21) in Danish brown mink and (4) investigate direct and correlated response to selection on each trait of interest. Feed intake records from 9574 cages, BW records on 16 782 males and 16 875 females and LS21 records on 6446 yearling females were used for analysis. Genetic parameters for FI, BWM, BWF and LS21 were obtained using a multivariate animal model, yielding sex-specific additive genetic variances for FI and BW to account for sexual dimorphism. The analysis was performed in a Bayesian setting using Gibbs sampling, and genetic RFI was obtained from the conditional distribution of FI given BW using genetic regression coefficients. Responses to single trait selection were defined as the posterior distribution of genetic superiority of the top 10% of animals after conditioning on the genetic trends. The heritabilities ranged from 0.13 for RFI in females and LS21 to 0.59 for BWF. Genetic correlations between BW in both sexes and LS21 and FI in both sexes were unfavorable, and single trait selection on BW in either sex showed increased FI in both sexes and reduced litter size. Due to the definition of RFI and high genetic correlation between BWM and BWF, selection on RFI did not significantly alter BW. In addition, selection on RFI in either sex did not affect LS21. Genetic correlation between sexes for FI and BW was high but significantly lower than unity. The high correlations across sex allowed for selection on standardized averages of animals’ breeding values (BVs) for RFI, FI and BW, which yielded selection responses approximately equal to the responses obtained using the sex-specific BVs. The results illustrate the possibility of selecting against RFI in mink with no negative effects on BW and litter size.
Hungarian Grey is an indigenous cattle breed that is one of the national symbols of Hungary. However, genetic description of the Hungarian Grey cattle has not yet been conducted based on whole-genome screening. Using the GeneSeek high-density Bovine SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) 150 K BeadChip, we sampled the genome of 36 Hungarian Grey, 12 Maremmana, 13 Hungarian Fleckvieh and 5 Holstein-Friesian cattle for population studies and used data of 139 other cattle from an additional dataset created on European cattle breeds (Upadhyay et al.2017. Heredity 118, 169–176). The performance of a multidimensional scaling plot showed that Hungarian Grey clustered independently from other European cattle. The number and total length of runs of homozygosity (ROH) is similar or slightly below the value of other European cattle; FROH coefficients (proportion of the autosomal genome covered by ROH) are similar to Maremmana and Maronesa. The frequency of ROH does not show increased values as it can be noticed in Heck and Maltese. These results indicate that the Hungarian Grey cattle have been successfully maintained avoiding negative genetic effects, and reflect the uniqueness among European cattle. The identification of breed-specific loci has been aimed at differentiating Hungarian Grey (n = 136 in this case) from other cattle breeds (n = 169). Ten loci (−log10P > 5) were identified as markers capable for differentiation of Hungarian Grey. These markers are located on chromosomes 6, 14, 15, 16, 20 and 24.
Extreme weather conditions such as cold stress influence the productivity and survivability of beef cattle raised on pasture. The objective of this study was to identify and evaluate the extent of the impact of genotype by environment interaction due to cold stress on birth weight (BW) and weaning weight (WW) in a composite beef cattle population. The effect of cold stress was modelled as the accumulation of total cold load (TCL) calculated using the Comprehensive Climate Index units, considering three TCL classes defined based on temperature: less than −5°C (TCL5), −15°C (TCL15) and −25°C (TCL25). A total of 4221 and 4217 records for BW and WW, respectively, were used from a composite beef cattle population (50% Red Angus, 25% Charolais and 25% Tarentaise) between 2002 and 2015. For both BW and WW, a univariate model (ignoring cold stress) and a reaction norm model were implemented. As cold load increased, the direct heritability slightly increased in both BW and WW for TCL5 class; however, this heritability remained consistent across the cold load of TCL25 class. In contrast, the maternal heritability of BW was constant with cold load increase in all TCL classes, although a slight increase of maternal heritability was observed for TCL5 and TCL15. The direct and maternal genetic correlation for BW and maternal genetic correlation for WW across different cold loads between all TCL classes were high (r > 0.99), whereas the lowest direct genetic correlations observed for WW were 0.88 for TCL5 and 0.85 for TCL15. The Spearman rank correlation between the estimated breeding value of top bulls (n = 79) using univariate and reaction norm models across TCL classes showed some re-ranking in direct and maternal effects for both BW and WW particularly for TCL5 and TCL15. In general, cold stress did not have a big impact on direct and maternal genetic effects of BW and WW.
Combining different swine populations in genomic prediction can be an important tool, leading to an increased accuracy of genomic prediction using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chip data compared with within-population genomic. However, the expected higher accuracy of multi-population genomic prediction has not been realized. This may be due to an inconsistent linkage disequilibrium (LD) between SNPs and quantitative trait loci (QTL) across populations, and the weak genetic relationships across populations. In this study, we determined the impact of different genomic relationship matrices, SNP density and pre-selected variants on prediction accuracy using a combined Yorkshire pig population. Our objective was to provide useful strategies for improving the accuracy of genomic prediction within a combined population. Results showed that the accuracy of genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP) using imputed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data in the combined population was always higher than that within populations. Furthermore, the use of imputed WGS data always resulted in a higher accuracy of GBLUP than the use of 80K chip data for the combined population. Additionally, the accuracy of GBLUP with a non-linear genomic relationship matrix was markedly increased (0.87% to 15.17% for 80K chip data, and 0.43% to 4.01% for imputed WGS data) compared with that obtained with a linear genomic relationship matrix, except for the prediction of XD population in the combined population using imputed WGS data. More importantly, the application of pre-selected variants based on fixation index (Fst) scores improved the accuracy of multi-population genomic prediction, especially for 80K chip data. For BLUP|GA (BLUP approach given the genetic architecture), the use of a linear method with an appropriate weight to build a weight-relatedness matrix led to a higher prediction accuracy compared with the use of only pre-selected SNPs for genomic evaluations, especially for the total number of piglets born. However, for the non-linear method, BLUP|GA showed only a small increase or even a decrease in prediction accuracy compared with the use of only pre-selected SNPs. Overall, the best genomic evaluation strategy for reproduction-related traits for a combined population was found to be GBLUP performed with a non-linear genomic relationship matrix using variants pre-selected from the 80K chip data based on Fst scores.
Although the tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum) is the most cultivated native fish species in Brazil, estimated breeding values for growth traits are rarely used for selection of superior individuals in commercial fingerling production. This study aimed to estimate the (co)variance components of growth traits. Body weight, length and width of 2500 tambaqui were determined at tagging and at 6 and 12 months after tagging in a commercial breeding programme in Brazil. Heritability estimates were low for traits measured at tagging (0.10 to 0.19) and moderate to high for traits measured at 6 and 12 months (0.23 to 0.81). Common full-sib effects were high at tagging (>73%), low at 6 months and negligible at 12 months. Positive genetic correlations were found among growth traits at 12 months (0.84 to 0.99) and between growth traits at 6 and 12 months (0.80 to 0.92). These results show that animal selection can be performed at 6 months after tagging. Expected genetic gains for growth traits ranged from 8% to 31%. A simulation of the sex ratio was performed, as individuals did not reach sexual maturity during the experimental period. Because of the sexual dimorphism, more accurate heritability estimates were obtained when considering the female proportion to be 90% in the high-weight group. The findings indicate that it is possible to obtain considerable genetic gains in growth by selecting for growth traits. The development of a tool to determine the sex of animals at early stages can improve the response to selection in tambaqui.
Inclusion of feed efficiency traits into the dairy cattle breeding programmes will require considering early lactation energy status to avoid deterioration in health and fertility of dairy cows. In this regard, energy status indicator (ESI) traits, for example, blood metabolites or milk fatty acids (FAs), are of interest. These indicators can be predicted from routine milk samples by mid-IR reflectance spectroscopy (MIR). In this study, we estimated genetic variation in ESI traits and their genetic correlation with female fertility in early lactation. The data consisted of 37 424 primiparous Nordic Red Dairy cows with milk test-day records between 8 and 91 days in milk (DIM). Routine test-day milk samples were analysed by MIR using previously developed calibration equations for blood plasma non-esterified FA (NEFA), milk FAs, milk beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and milk acetone concentrations. Six ESI traits were considered and included: plasma NEFA concentration (mmol/l) either predicted by multiple linear regression including DIM, milk fat to protein ratio (FPR) and FAs C10:0, C14:0, C18:1 cis-9, C14:0 * C18:1 cis-9 (NEFAFA) or directly from milk MIR spectra (NEFAMIR), C18:1 cis-9 (g/100 ml milk), FPR, BHB (mmol/l milk) and acetone (mmol/l milk). The interval from calving to first insemination (ICF) was considered as the fertility trait. Data were analysed using linear mixed models. Heritability estimates varied during the first three lactation months from 0.13 to 0.19, 0.10 to 0.17, 0.09 to 0.14, 0.07 to 0.10, 0.13 to 0.17 and 0.13 to 0.18 for NEFAMIR, NEFAFA, C18:1 cis-9, FPR, milk BHB and acetone, respectively. Genetic correlations between all ESI traits and ICF were from 0.18 to 0.40 in the first lactation period (8 to 35 DIM), in general somewhat lower (0.03 to 0.43) in the second period (36 to 63 DIM) and decreased clearly (−0.02 to 0.19) in the third period (64 to 91 DIM). Our results indicate that genetic variation in energy status of cows in early lactation can be determined using MIR-predicted indicators. In addition, the markedly lower genetic correlation between ESI traits and fertility in the third lactation month indicated that energy status should be determined from the first test-day milk samples during the first 2 months of lactation.
The net benefit from investing in any technology is a function of the cost of implementation and the expected return in revenue. The objective of the present study was to quantify, using deterministic equations, the net monetary benefit from investing in genotyping of commercial females. Three case studies were presented reflecting dairy cows, beef cows and ewes based on Irish population parameters; sensitivity analyses were also performed. Parameters considered in the sensitivity analyses included the accuracy of genomic evaluations, replacement rate, proportion of female selection candidates retained as replacements, the cost of genotyping, the sire parentage error rate and the age of the female when it first gave birth. Results were presented as an annualised monetary net benefit over the lifetime of an individual, after discounting for the timing of expressions. In the base scenarios, the net benefit was greatest for dairy, followed by beef and then sheep. The net benefit improved as the reliability of the genomic evaluations improved and, in fact, a negative net benefit of genotyping was less frequent when the reliability of the genomic evaluations was high. The impact of a 10% point increase in genomic reliability was, however, greatest in sheep, followed by beef and then dairy. The net benefit of genotyping female selection candidates reduced as replacement rate increased. As genotyping costs increased, the net benefit reduced irrespective of the percentage of selection candidates kept, the replacement rate or even the population considered. Nonetheless, the association between the genotyping cost and the net benefit of genotyping differed by the percentage of selection candidates kept. Across all replacement rates evaluated, retaining 25% of the selection candidates resulted in the greatest net benefit when genotyping cost was low but the lowest net benefit when genotyping cost was high. Genotyping breakeven cost was non-linearly associated with the percentage of selection candidates retained, reaching a maximum when 50% of selection candidates were retained, irrespective of replacement rate, genomic reliability or the population. The genotyping breakeven cost was also non-linearly associated with replacement rate. The approaches outlined within provide the back-end framework for a decision support tool to quantify the net benefit of genotyping, once parameterised by the relevant population metrics.
Large ham weight losses (WL) in dry-curing are undesired as they lead to a loss of marketable product and penalise the quality of the dry-cured ham. The availability of early predictions of WL may ease the adaptation of the dry-curing process to the characteristics of the thighs and increase the effectiveness of selective breeding in enhancing WL. Aims of this study were (i) to develop Bayesian and Random Forests (RFs) regression models for the prediction of ham WL during dry-curing using on-site infrared spectra of raw ham subcutaneous fat, carcass and raw ham traits as predictors and (ii) to estimate genetic parameters for WL and their predictions (P-WL). Visible-near infrared spectra were collected on the transversal section of the subcutaneous fat of raw hams. Carcass traits were carcass weight, carcass backfat depth, lean meat content and weight of raw hams. Raw ham traits included measures of ham subcutaneous fat depth and linear scores for round shape, subcutaneous fat thickness and marbling of the visible muscles of the thigh. Measures of WL were available for 1672 hams. The best prediction accuracies were those of a Bayesian regression model including the average spectrum, carcass and raw ham traits, with R2 values in validation of 0.46, 0.55 and 0.62, for WL at end of salting (23 days), resting (90 days) and curing (12 months), respectively. When WL at salting was used as an additional predictor of total WL, the R2 in validation was 0.67. Bayesian regressions were more accurate than RFs models in predicting all the investigated traits. Restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of genetic parameters for WL and P-WL at the end of curing were estimated through a bivariate animal model including 1672 measures of WL and 8819 P-WL records. Results evidenced that the traits are heritable (h2 ± SE was 0.27 ± 0.04 for WL and 0.39 ± 0.04 for P-WL), and the additive genetic correlation is positive and high (ra = 0.88 ± 0.03). Prediction accuracy of ham WL is high enough to envisage a future use of prediction models in identifying batches of hams requiring an adaptation of the processing conditions to optimise results of the manufacturing process. The positive and high genetic correlation detected between WL and P-WL at the end of dry-curing, as well as the estimated heritability for P-WL, suggests that P-WL can be successfully used as an indicator trait of the measured WL in pig breeding programs.
The objectives of this study were to analyse the differences in the genetic determination of functional longevity in five Spanish lines of rabbits and to check how different systematic factors might affect this genetic determination. Four of the lines were maternal (lines A, V, H and LP), these lines were established selecting base generation animals according to different criteria, but in the subsequent generations all of them were selected for litter size at weaning. The other is the paternal line R, this line was constituted by selecting animals with an outstanding daily growth rate. The trait analysed, length of productive life, was the time in days between the date of the first positive pregnancy test and the date of culling or death of a doe. Four models extended from the Cox proportional hazard model were used to analyse data of each line separately and jointly. The complete model (Model 1) included the fixed effect of year-season (YS) combination, positive palpation order (OPP), that is, reproductive cycle, physiological status of the doe (PS) at service and number of kits born alive (NBA) in each kindling as time-dependent factors. The inbreeding coefficient was fitted as a continuous covariate and the animal’s additive genetic effect was also fitted to the model (Model 1). The other models were identical to Model 1 but excluding OPP (Model 2) or PS (Model 3) or NBA (Model 4), which were explored to assess the consequence on additive variance estimates of not correcting for these animal-dependent factors. Estimated effective heritabilities of longevity were 0.07 ± 0.03, 0.03 ± 0.02, 0.14 ± 0.09, 0.05 ± 0.04, 0.02 ± 0.01 and 0.04 ± 0.01 for lines A, V, H, LP, R and for the merged data set, respectively. Removing the PS from the model led to an increase in the estimated additive genetic variance in all lines (0.17 ± 0.05, 0.05 ± 0.03, 0.29 ± 0.19, 0.29 ± 0.20, 0.07 ± 0.04 and 0.05 ± 0.02 for lines A, V, H, LP, R and the merged data set, respectively). The highest hazard of death and/or culling was observed during the first two parities and decreased as the order of parity progressed. Does non-pregnant-non-lactating had the highest risk of death or culling. The does that had zero kits born alive incurred the highest risk, and this risk decreased as the NBA increased. In conclusion, the consideration of longevity as selection criterion for the studied rabbit lines is not recommended.
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping tools, which can analyse thousands of SNPs covering the whole genome, have opened new opportunities to estimate the inbreeding level of animals directly using genome information. One of the most commonly used genomic inbreeding measures considers the proportion of the autosomal genome covered by runs of homozygosity (ROH), which are defined as continuous and uninterrupted chromosome portions showing homozygosity at all loci. In this study, we analysed the distribution of ROH in three commercial pig breeds (Italian Large White, n = 1968; Italian Duroc, n = 573; and Italian Landrace, n = 46) and four autochthonous breeds (Apulo-Calabrese, n = 90; Casertana, n = 90; Cinta Senese, n = 38; and Nero Siciliano, n = 48) raised in Italy, using SNP data generated from Illumina PorcineSNP60 BeadChip. We calculated ROH-based inbreeding coefficients (FROH) using ROH of different minimum length (1, 2, 4, 8, 16 Mbp) and compared them with several other genomic inbreeding coefficients (including the difference between observed and expected number of homozygous genotypes (FHOM)) and correlated all these genomic-based measures with the pedigree inbreeding coefficient (FPED) calculated for the pigs of some of these breeds. Autochthonous breeds had larger mean size of ROH than all three commercial breeds. FHOM was highly correlated (0.671 to 0.985) with FROH measures in all breeds. Apulo-Calabrese and Casertana had the highest FROH values considering all ROH minimum lengths (ranging from 0.273 to 0.189 and from 0.226 to 0.152, moving from ROH of minimum size of 1 Mbp (FROH1) to 16 Mbp (FROH16)), whereas the lowest FROH values were for Nero Siciliano (from 0.072 to 0.051) and Italian Large White (from 0.117 to 0.042). FROH decreased as the minimum length of ROH increased for all breeds. Italian Duroc had the highest correlations between all FROH measures and FPED (from 0.514 to 0.523) and between FHOM and FPED (0.485). Among all analysed breeds, Cinta Senese had the lowest correlation between FROH and FPED. This might be due to the imperfect measure of FPED, which, mainly in local breeds raised in extensive production systems, cannot consider a higher level of pedigree errors and a potential higher relatedness of the founder population. It appeared that ROH better captured inbreeding information in the analysed breeds and could complement pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients for the management of these genetic resources.
Reggiana is an autochthonous cattle breed reared mainly in the province of Reggio Emilia, located in the North of Italy. Reggiana cattle (originally a triple-purpose population largely diffused in the North of Italy) are characterised by a typical solid red coat colour. About 2500 cows of this breed are currently registered to its herd book. Reggiana is now considered a dual-purpose breed even if it is almost completely dedicated to the production of a mono-breed branded Protected Designation of Origin Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is the main driver of the sustainable conservation of this local genetic resource. In this study, we provided the first overview of genomic footprints that characterise Reggiana and define the diversity of this local cattle breed. A total of 168 Reggiana sires (all bulls born over 35 years for which semen was available) and other 3321 sires from 3 cosmopolitan breeds (Brown, Holstein and Simmental) were genotyped with the Illumina BovineSNP50 panel. ADMIXTURE analysis suggested that Reggiana breed might have been influenced, at least in part, by the other three breeds included in this study. Selection signatures in the Reggiana genome were identified using three statistical approaches based on allele frequency differences among populations or on properties of haplotypes segregating in the populations (fixation index (FST); integrated haplotype score; cross-population extended haplotype homozygosity). We identified several regions under peculiar selection in the Reggiana breed, particularly on bovine chromosome (BTA) 6 in the KIT gene region, that is known to be involved in coat colour pattern distribution, and within the region of the LAP3, NCAPG and LCORL genes, that are associated with stature, conformation and carcass traits. Another already known region that includes the PLAG1 gene (BTA14), associated with conformation traits, showed a selection signature in the Reggiana cattle. On BTA18, a signal of selection included the MC1R gene that causes the red coat colour in cattle. Other selection sweeps were in regions, with high density of quantitative trait loci for milk production traits (on BTA20) and in several other large regions that might have contributed to shape and define the Reggiana genome (on BTA17 and BTA29). All these results, overall, indicate that the Reggiana genome might still contain several signs of its multipurpose and non-specialised utilisation, as already described for other local cattle populations, in addition to footprints derived by its ancestral origin and by its adaptation to the specialised Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese production system.
In order to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for allometries of body compositions and metabolic traits in chicken, we phenotypically characterize the allometric growths of multiple body components and metabolic traits relative to BWs using joint allometric scaling models and then establish random regression models (RRMs) to fit genetic effects of markers and minor polygenes derived from the pedigree on the allometric scalings. Prior to statistically inferring the QTLs for the allometric scalings by solving the RRMs, the LASSO technique is adopted to rapidly shrink most of marker genetic effects to zero. Computer simulation analysis confirms the reliability and adaptability of the so-called LASSO-RRM mapping method. In the F2 population constructed by multiple families, we formulate two joint allometric scaling models of body compositions and metabolic traits, in which six of nine body compositions are tested as significant, while six of eight metabolic traits are as significant. For body compositions, a total of 14 QTLs, of which 9 dominant, were detected to be associated with the allometric scalings of drumstick, fat, heart, shank, liver and spleen to BWs; while for metabolic traits, a total of 19 QTLs also including 9 dominant be responsible for the allometries of T4, IGFI, IGFII, GLC, INS, IGR to BWs. The detectable QTLs or highly linked markers can be used to regulate relative growths of the body components and metabolic traits to BWs in marker-assisted breeding of chickens.
Lamb live weight is one of the key drivers of profitability on sheep farms. Previous studies in Ireland have estimated genetic parameters for live weight and carcass composition traits using a multi-breed population rather than on an individual breed basis. The objective of the present study was to undertake genetic analyses of three lamb live weight and two carcass composition traits pertaining to purebred Texel, Suffolk and Charollais lambs born in the Republic of Ireland between 2010 and 2017, inclusive. Traits (with lamb age range in parenthesis) considered in the analyses were: pre-weaning weight (20 to 65 days), weaning weight (66 to 120 days), post-weaning weight (121 to 180 days), muscle depth (121 to 180 days) and fat depth (121 to 180 days). After data edits, 137 402 records from 50 372 lambs across 416 flocks were analysed. Variance components were derived using animal linear mixed models separately for each breed. Fixed effects included for all traits were contemporary group, age at first lambing of the dam, parity of the dam, a gender by age of the lamb interaction and a birth type by rearing type of the lamb interaction. Random effects investigated in the pre-weaning and weaning weight analyses included animal direct additive genetic, dam maternal genetic, litter common environment, dam permanent environment and residual variances. The model of analysis for post-weaning, muscle and fat depth included an animal direct additive genetic and litter common environment effect only. Significant direct additive genetic variation existed in all cases. Direct heritability for pre-weaning weight ranged from 0.14 to 0.30 across the three breeds. Weaning weight had a direct heritability ranging from 0.17 to 0.27 and post-weaning weight had a direct heritability ranging from 0.15 to 0.27. Muscle and fat depth heritability estimates ranged from 0.21 to 0.31 and 0.15 to 0.20, respectively. Positive direct correlations were evident for all traits. Results revealed ample genetic variation among animals for the studied traits and significant differences between breeds to suggest that genetic evaluations could be conducted on a per-breed basis.
As a result of the genetic selection for prolificacy and the improvements in the environment and farms management, litter size has increased in the last few years so that energy requirements of the lactating sow are greater. In addition, selection for feed efficiency of growing pigs is also conducted in maternal lines, and this has led to a decrease in appetite and feed intake that is extended to the lactation period, so the females are not able to obtain the necessary energy and nutrients for milk production and they mobilize their energetic reserves. When this mobilization is excessive, reproductive and health problems occur which ends up in an early sow culling. In this context, it has been suggested to improve feed efficiency at lactation through genetic selection. The aim of this study is to know, in a Duroc population, the genetic determinism of sow feed efficiency during lactation and traits involved in its definition, as well as genetic and environmental associations between them. The studied traits are daily lactation feed intake (dLFI), daily sow weight balance (dSWB), backfat thickness balance (BFTB), daily litter weight gain (dLWG), sow residual feed intake (RFI) and sow restricted residual feed intake (RRFI) during lactation. Data corresponded to 851 parities from 581 Duroc sows. A Bayesian analysis was performed using Gibbs sampling. A four-trait repeatability animal model was implemented including the systematic factors of batch and parity order, the standardized covariates of sow weight (SWf) and litter weight (LWs) at farrowing for all traits and lactation length for BFTB. The posterior mean (posterior SD) of heritabilities were: 0.09 (0.03) for dLFI, 0.37 (0.07) for dSWB, 0.09 (0.03) for BFTB, 0.22 (0.05) for dLWG, 0.04 (0.02) for RFI and null for RRFI. The genetic correlation between dLFI and dSWB was high and positive (0.74 (0.11)) and null between dLFI and BFTB. Genetic correlation was favourable between RFI and dLFI and BFTB (0.71 (0.16) and −0.69 (0.18)), respectively. The other genetic correlations were not statistically different from zero. The phenotypic correlations were low and positive between dLFI and dSWB (0.27 (0.03), dSWB and BFTB (0.25 (0.04)), and between dLFI and dLWG (0.16 (0.03)). Therefore, in the population under study, the improvement of the lactation feed efficiency would be possible either using RFI, which would not have unfavourable correlated effects, or through an index including its component traits.
Relationships play a very important role in studies on quantitative genetics. In traditional breeding, pedigree records are used to establish relationships between animals; while this kind of relationship actually represents one kind of relatedness, it cannot distinguish individual specificity, capture the variation between individuals or determine the actual genetic superiority of an animal. However, with the popularization of high-throughput genotypes, assessments of relationships among animals based on genomic information could be a better option. In this study, we compared the relationships between animals based on pedigree and genomic information from two pig breeding herds with different genetic backgrounds and a simulated dataset. Two different methods were implemented to calculate genomic relationship coefficients and genomic kinship coefficients, respectively. Our results show that, for the same kind of relative, the average genomic relationship coefficients (G matrix) were very close to the pedigree relationship coefficients (A matrix), and on average, the corresponding values were halved in genomic kinship coefficients (K matrix). However, the genomic relationship yielded a larger variation than the pedigree relationship, and the latter was similar to that expected for one relative with no or little variation. Two genomic relationship coefficients were highly correlated, for farm1, farm2 and simulated data, and the correlations for the parent-offspring, full-sib and half-sib were 0.95, 0.90 and 0.85; 0.93, 0.96 and 0.89; and 0.52, 0.85 and 0.77, respectively. When the inbreeding coefficient was measured, the genomic information also yielded a higher inbreeding coefficient and a larger variation than that yielded by the pedigree information. For the two genetically divergent Large White populations, the pedigree relationship coefficients between the individuals were 0, and 62 310 and 175 271 animal pairs in the G matrix and K matrix were greater than 0. Our results demonstrated that genomic information outperformed the pedigree information; it can more accurately reflect the relationships and capture the variation that is not detected by pedigree. This information is very helpful in the estimation of genomic breeding values or gene mapping. In addition, genomic information is useful for pedigree correction. Further, our findings also indicate that genomic information can establish the genetic connection between different groups with different genetic background. In addition, it can be used to provide a more accurate measurement of the inbreeding of an animal, which is very important for the assessment of a population structure and breeding plan. However, the approaches for measuring genomic relationships need further investigation.
Conservation of animal genetic resources requires regular monitoring and interventions to maintain population size and manage genetic variability. This study uses genealogical information to evaluate the impact of conservation measures in Europe, using (i) data from the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) and (ii) a posteriori assessment of the impact of various conservation measures on the genetic variability of 17 at-risk breeds with a wide range of interventions. Analysis of data from DAD-IS showed that 68% of national breed populations reported to receive financial support showed increasing demographic trends, v. 51% for those that did not. The majority of the 17 at-risk breeds have increased their numbers of registered animals over the last 20 years, but the changes in genetic variability per breed have not always matched the trend in population size. These differences in trends observed in the different metrics might be explained by the tensions between interventions to maintain genetic variability, and development initiatives which lead to intensification of selection.