Detection of quantitative trait loci influencing dairy traits using a model for longitudinal data

S L Rodriguez-Zas, B R Southey, D W Heyen, H A Lewin
Journal of Dairy Science 2002, 85 (10): 2681-91
A longitudinal-linkage analysis approach was developed and applied to an outbred population. Nonlinear mixed-effects models were used to describe the lactation patterns and were extended to include marker information following single-marker and interval mapping models. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting the shape and scale of lactation curves for production and health traits in dairy cattle were mapped in three U.S. Holstein families (Dairy Bull DNA Repository families one, four, and five) using the granddaughter design. Information on 81 informative markers on six Bos taurus autosomes (BTA) was combined with milk yield, fat, and protein percentage and somatic cell score (SCS) test-day records. Six percent of the single-marker tests surpassed the experiment-wise significance threshold. Marker BL41 on BTA3 was associated with decrease in milk yield during mid-lactation in family one. The scale and shape of the protein percentage lactation curve in family four varied with BMC4203 (BTA6) allele that the son received from the grandsire. Some map locations were associated with variation in the lactation pattern of multiple traits. In family four, the marker HUJI177 (BTA3) was associated with changes in the milk yield and protein percentage curves suggesting a QTL with pleiotropic effects or multiple QTL in the region. The interval mapping model uncovered a QTL on BTA7 associated with variation in milk-yield pattern in family four and a QTL on BTA21 affecting SCS in family five. The developed approach can be extended to random regressions, covariance functions, spline, gametic and variance component models. The results from the longitudinal-QTL approach will help to understand the genetic factors acting at different stages of lactation and will assist in positional candidate gene research. Identified positions can be incorporated into marker-assisted selection decisions to alter the persistency and peak production or the fluctuation of SCS during a lactation.

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