Topical Collection "Applications of Quantitative Genetics in Livestock Production"

A topical collection in Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This collection belongs to the section "Animal Genetics and Genomics".

Editor

Prof. Michael E. Davis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Interests: Beef; Dairy; Genetics; Genetic Engineering; Animal Breeding; Biostatistics; Animal Genetics

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

The genetic improvement of livestock in the last 100 years has been remarkable. Most of this genetic change has been due to the application of quantitative genetics. During the 1920s and 1930s, population genetics came of age as the leaders in the field sought to describe genes and chromosomes. Following World War II, J. L. Lush, L. N. Hazel, and others developed the concepts of selection indices and breeding values. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, computing technology advanced to the point where breed associations were able to be generated across herd genetic evaluations using the selection index theory and the mixed model equations first suggested by C. R. Henderson. In the 1980s, BLUP the methodology and reduced animal model were developed, thus allowing for the estimation of expected progeny differences and predicting the transmitting abilities within the breeds of livestock. Another major event in the 1980s was the launch of the genomics era. The genomes of many livestock species have been sequenced, and a large number of evenly spaced genetic markers have been identified. The availability of marker panels of thousands of SNPs, along with new computing technologies, such as a single-step approach to incorporating genomic information into EPDs, have made genomic selection a reality, and have greatly increased the accuracy of selection, even for young animals and for difficult to measure traits such as disease resistance, longevity, and feed efficiency. Much has been accomplished, but much work remains for quantitative geneticists who work with livestock. The commercial genotyping of livestock has been accomplished for millions of animals. Therefore, vast amounts of genomic data remain to be mined. Much remains to be learned concerning the genetic architecture of complex traits and how this knowledge can be applied to livestock production.

Prof. Michael E. Davis
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • population genetics
  • animal breeding
  • quantitative genetics
  • heritability
  • genetic variation
  • gene frequency
  • selection
  • mating systems
  • genetic improvement
  • breeding value.

Published Papers (24 papers)

2019

Open AccessArticle
Identification of Copy Number Variation in Domestic Chicken Using Whole-Genome Sequencing Reveals Evidence of Selection in the Genome
Animals 2019, 9(10), 809; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100809 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
Copy number variation (CNV) has great significance both functionally and evolutionally. Various CNV studies are in progress to find the cause of human disease and to understand the population structure of livestock. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology have made CNV detection [...] Read more.
Copy number variation (CNV) has great significance both functionally and evolutionally. Various CNV studies are in progress to find the cause of human disease and to understand the population structure of livestock. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology have made CNV detection more reliable and accurate at whole-genome level. However, there is a lack of CNV studies on chickens using NGS. Therefore, we obtained whole-genome sequencing data of 65 chickens including Red Jungle Fowl, Cornish (broiler), Rhode Island Red (hybrid), and White Leghorn (layer) from the public databases for CNV region (CNVR) detection. Using CNVnator, a read-depth based software, a total of 663 domesticated-specific CNVRs were identified across autosomes. Gene ontology analysis of genes annotated in CNVRs showed that mainly enriched terms involved in organ development, metabolism, and immune regulation. Population analysis revealed that CN and RIR are closer to each other than WL, and many genes (LOC772271, OR52R1, RD3, ADH6, TLR2B, PRSS2, TPK1, POPDC3, etc.) with different copy numbers between breeds found. In conclusion, this study has helped to understand the genetic characteristics of domestic chickens at CNV level, which may provide useful information for the development of breeding systems in chickens. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Theoretical Evaluation of Multi-Breed Genomic Prediction in Chinese Indigenous Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(10), 789; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100789 - 11 Oct 2019
Abstract
Genomic selection (GS) has been widely considered as a valuable strategy for enhancing the rate of genetic gain in farm animals. However, the construction of a large reference population is a big challenge for small populations like indigenous cattle. In order to evaluate [...] Read more.
Genomic selection (GS) has been widely considered as a valuable strategy for enhancing the rate of genetic gain in farm animals. However, the construction of a large reference population is a big challenge for small populations like indigenous cattle. In order to evaluate the potential application of GS for Chinese indigenous cattle, we assessed the influence of combining multiple populations on the reliability of genomic predictions for 10 indigenous breeds of Chinese cattle using simulated data. Also, we examined the effect of different genetic architecture on prediction accuracy. In this study, we simulated a set of genotype data by a resampling approach which can reflect the realistic linkage disequilibrium pattern for multiple populations. We found within-breed evaluations yielded the highest accuracies ranged from 0.64 to 0.68 for four different simulated genetic architectures. For scenarios using multiple breeds as reference, the predictive accuracies were higher when the reference was comprised of breeds with a close relationship, while the accuracies were low when prediction were carried out among breeds. In addition, the accuracy increased in all scenarios with the heritability increased. Our results suggested that using meta-population as reference can increase accuracy of genomic predictions for small populations. Moreover, multi-breed genomic selection was feasible for Chinese indigenous populations with genetic relationships. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Comprehensive Analysis of Porcine Prox1 Gene and Its Relationship with Meat Quality Traits
Animals 2019, 9(10), 744; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100744 - 29 Sep 2019
Abstract
Prox1 is involved in muscle fiber conversion, adult-onset obesity, and type 2 diabetes. However, information regarding porcine Prox1 and its relationship with meat quality traits is still unknown. In this study, we characterized the full-length cDNA and proximal promoter of two transcript variants [...] Read more.
Prox1 is involved in muscle fiber conversion, adult-onset obesity, and type 2 diabetes. However, information regarding porcine Prox1 and its relationship with meat quality traits is still unknown. In this study, we characterized the full-length cDNA and proximal promoter of two transcript variants of porcine Prox1. Moreover, Prox1 was expressed abundantly in the skeletal muscle and its expression was higher in the soleus muscle than that in the biceps femoris muscle. Its expression pattern in the high and low meat color (redness) value a* groups was similar to that of myoglobin and MyHC I, but opposed to that of MyHC IIB. Importantly, there was a significant positive correlation between Prox1 expression and meat color (redness) value a* (r = 0.3845, p = 0.0394), and a significant negative correlation between Prox1 expression and drip loss (r = −0.4204, p = 0.0232), as well as the ratio of MyHC IIB to MyHC I expression (r = −0.3871, p = 0.0380). In addition, we found that the polymorphisms of three closely linked SNPs in Prox1 promoter 1 were significantly associated with pH24h in a pig population. Taken together, our data provide valuable insights into the characteristics of porcine Prox1 and indicate that Prox1 is a promising candidate gene affecting meat quality traits. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Association Study for Reproductive Traits in a Duroc Pig Population
Animals 2019, 9(10), 732; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100732 - 26 Sep 2019
Abstract
In the pig industry, reproductive traits constantly influence the production efficiency. To identify markers and candidate genes underlying porcine reproductive traits, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed in a Duroc pig population. In total, 1067 pigs were genotyped using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) [...] Read more.
In the pig industry, reproductive traits constantly influence the production efficiency. To identify markers and candidate genes underlying porcine reproductive traits, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed in a Duroc pig population. In total, 1067 pigs were genotyped using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips, and four reproductive traits, including litter size at birth (LSB), litter weight at birth (LWB), litter size at weaning (LSW), and litter weight at weaning (LWW), were examined. The results showed that 20 potential SNPs reached the level of suggestive significance and were associated with these traits of interest. Several important candidate genes, including TXN2, KCNA1, ENSSSCG00000003546, ZDHHC18, MAP2K6, BICC1, FAM135B, EPHB2, SEMA4D, ST3GAL1, KCTD3, FAM110A, TMEM132D, TBX3, and FAM110A, were identified and might compose the underlying genetic architecture of porcine reproductive traits. These findings help to understand the genetic basis of porcine reproductive traits and provide important information for molecular breeding in pigs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Associations between Bovine β-Defensin 4 Genotypes and Production Traits of Polish Holstein-Friesian Dairy Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(10), 723; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100723 - 25 Sep 2019
Abstract
This study analyzed the associations between two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (C2239T and A1674C), used together as a genotype located in BNBD4, and milk traits and breeding values of productivity traits of Polish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. The research was carried out on 322 cows, with [...] Read more.
This study analyzed the associations between two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (C2239T and A1674C), used together as a genotype located in BNBD4, and milk traits and breeding values of productivity traits of Polish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. The research was carried out on 322 cows, with 7070 milk parameter and somatic cell count records in daily milking, as well as 897 records covering data on whole lactations, and 2209 breeding value records for productivity traits. The DMU statistical package with a one-trait repeatability test-day animal model was used to estimate the associations. The differences between the genotype effects were analyzed using Duncan’s post-hoc tests. The CC/AA and CT/AC genotypes had the highest frequencies (0.62 and 0.23, respectively). For use in marker-assisted selection, the CC/AC genotype is the most promising as an indicator of high-yielding cows potentially resistant to mastitis, because it was associated with the lowest somatic cell count (SCC), highest milk, fat, and protein yields in daily milking, as well as with milk yield in the whole lactation. The studied genotypes were also related to the breeding values of all the investigated production traits. However, some simulation studies have indicated a high rate of false-positives in GWAS based on classically calculated EBVs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Genetic Parameters for Reproductive Traits in Hanwoo (Korean Cattle)
Animals 2019, 9(10), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100715 - 24 Sep 2019
Abstract
Genetic parameters for the reproductive traits of Hanwoo cattle were estimated using data obtained from 15,355 cows in 92 herds across South Korea, which were inseminated from May 1997 to July 2016. An “average information” restricted maximum likelihood (REML) procedure that fit in [...] Read more.
Genetic parameters for the reproductive traits of Hanwoo cattle were estimated using data obtained from 15,355 cows in 92 herds across South Korea, which were inseminated from May 1997 to July 2016. An “average information” restricted maximum likelihood (REML) procedure that fit in single-trait and multi-trait animal models was used to estimate the variance components of age at first calving (AFC), calving interval (CI), days open (DO), and gestation length (GL). Results showed the low estimates of heritability for all reproductive traits from both single-trait and multi-trait models. Estimates of heritability for AFC were 0.08 and 0.10 with single-trait and multi-trait models, respectively, while the estimates of heritability using the same animal models ranged from 0.01 to 0.07, 0.01 to 0.09, and 0.10 to 0.16 for CI, DO, and GL, accordingly. While AFC showed positive genetic correlations of 0.52 and 0.46 with CI and DO, respectively, the estimates of genetic and phenotypic correlations of GL with AFC were close to zero. Moreover, phenotypic correlations of GL with CI and DO were also close to zero; however, the corresponding genetic correlations were 0.13 and –0.38 for CI and DO, respectively. These estimated variance components and genetic correlations for reproductive traits can be utilized for genetic improvement programs of Hanwoo cattle. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Genetic Parameter Estimation and Genomic Prediction of Duroc Boars’ Sperm Morphology Abnormalities
Animals 2019, 9(10), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100710 - 23 Sep 2019
Abstract
Artificial insemination (AI) has been used globally as a routine technology in the swine production industry. However, genetic parameters and genomic prediction accuracy of semen traits have seldom been reported. In this study, we estimated genetic parameters and conducted genomic prediction for five [...] Read more.
Artificial insemination (AI) has been used globally as a routine technology in the swine production industry. However, genetic parameters and genomic prediction accuracy of semen traits have seldom been reported. In this study, we estimated genetic parameters and conducted genomic prediction for five types of sperm morphology abnormalities in a large Duroc boar population. The estimated heritability of the studied traits ranged from 0.029 to 0.295. In the random cross-validation scenario, the predictive ability ranged from 0.212 to 0.417 for genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP) and from 0.249 to 0.565 for single-step GBLUP (ssGBLUP). In the forward prediction scenario, the predictive ability ranged from 0.069 to 0.389 for GBLUP and from 0.085 to 0.483 for ssGBLUP. In conclusion, the studied sperm morphology abnormalities showed moderate to low heritability. Both GBLUP and ssGBLUP showed comparative predictive abilities of breeding values, and ssGBLUP outperformed GBLUP under many circumstances in respect to predictive ability. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the genetic parameters and genomic predictive ability of these traits were reported in such a large Duroc boar population. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
A Missense Mutation of the HSPB7 Gene Associated with Heat Tolerance in Chinese Indicine Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(8), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080554 - 14 Aug 2019
Abstract
The small heat shock proteins (HSPB) are expressed in response to heat stress, and the heat shock protein family B (small) member 7 (HSPB7) gene has been reported to play an important role in heat tolerance pathways. Only a missense mutation [...] Read more.
The small heat shock proteins (HSPB) are expressed in response to heat stress, and the heat shock protein family B (small) member 7 (HSPB7) gene has been reported to play an important role in heat tolerance pathways. Only a missense mutation (NC_037329.1: g.136054902 C > G: p.Ala69Gly) was identified in the HSPB7 gene in indicine cattle, which might be a candidate mutation associated with the heat tolerance. Here, we explore the allele frequency of this mutation in 774 individuals belonging to 32 Chinese indigenous cattle breeds using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing methods. The distribution of alleles of NC_037329.1: g.136054902 C > G displays significant geographical difference across native Chinese cattle breeds that the allele C was dominant in northern cattle groups, while allele G was dominant in southern indicine cattle groups. Additionally, the association analysis indicated that the G allele was significantly associated with mean annual temperature (T), relative humidity (RH), and temperature humidity index (THI) (p < 0.01), suggesting that cattle carrying allele G were distributed in regions with higher T, RH, and THI. Our results demonstrate that the mutation of the HSPB7 gene in Chinese indicine cattle might be a candidate gene associated with the heat tolerance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Scan for Runs of Homozygosity Identifies Candidate Genes in Three Pig Breeds
Animals 2019, 9(8), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080518 - 01 Aug 2019
Abstract
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are contiguous homozygous genotype segments in the genome that are present in an individual since the identical haplotypes are inherited from each parent. The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency and distribution of ROH in the [...] Read more.
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are contiguous homozygous genotype segments in the genome that are present in an individual since the identical haplotypes are inherited from each parent. The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency and distribution of ROH in the genomes of Landrace, Songliao black and Yorkshire pigs. We calculated two types of genome inbreeding coefficients and their correlation, including the inbreeding coefficient based on ROH (FROH) and the inbreeding coefficient based on the difference between the observed and expected number of homozygous genotypes (FHOM). Furthermore, we identified candidate genes in the genomic region most associated with ROH. We identified 21,312 ROH in total. The average number of ROH per individual was 32.99 ± 0.38 and the average length of ROH was 6.40 ± 0.070 Mb in the three breeds. The FROH results showed that Yorkshire pigs exhibited the highest level of inbreeding (0.092 ± 0.0015) and that Landrace pigs exhibited the lowest level of inbreeding (0.073 ± 0.0047). The average correlation between FROH and FHOM was high (0.94) within three breeds. The length of ROH provides insight into the inbreeding history of these three pig breeds. In this study, Songliao black pigs presented a higher frequency and average length of long ROH (>40 Mb) compared with those of Landrace and Yorkshire pigs, which indicated greater inbreeding in recent times. Genes related to reproductive traits (GATM, SPATA46, HSD17B7, VANGL2, DAXX, CPEB1), meat quality traits (NR1I3, APOA2, USF1) and energy conversion (NDUFS2) were identified within genomic regions with a high frequency of ROH. These genes could be used as target genes for further marker-assisted selection and genome selection. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of the Ovine Keratin-Associated Protein 21-1 Gene and Its Association with Variation in Wool Traits
Animals 2019, 9(7), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070450 - 16 Jul 2019
Abstract
Keratin-associated proteins (KAPs) are key constituents of wool and hair fibers. In this study, an ovine KAP gene encoding a HGT-KAP protein was identified. The gene was different from all of the HGT-KAP genes identified in sheep, but was closely related to the [...] Read more.
Keratin-associated proteins (KAPs) are key constituents of wool and hair fibers. In this study, an ovine KAP gene encoding a HGT-KAP protein was identified. The gene was different from all of the HGT-KAP genes identified in sheep, but was closely related to the human KAP21-1 gene, suggesting that it represented the unidentified ovine KRTAP21-1. Four variants (named A to D) of ovine KRTAP21-1 were found in 360 Merino × Southdown-cross lambs from four sire lines. Three sequence variations were detected among these variants. Two of the sequence variations were located upstream of the coding region and the remaining one was a synonymous variation in the coding sequence. Six genotypes were found in the Merino-cross lambs, with only two of the genotypes (AA and AC) occurring at a frequency of over 5%. Wool from sheep of genotype AA had a higher yield than that from AC sheep (p = 0.014), but tended to have a lower greasy fleece weight (GFW) than that of genotype AC (P = 0.078). This suggests that variation in KRTAP21-1 affects wool yield and the gene may have potential for use as a genetic maker for improving wool yield. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in SLC5A1, CCNA1, and ABCC1 and the Association with Litter Size in Small-Tail Han Sheep
Animals 2019, 9(7), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070432 - 09 Jul 2019
Abstract
SLC5A1, CCNA1, and ABCC1 have been extensively studied as candidate genes because of their great influence on the reproductive traits of animals. However, little is known about the association between polymorphisms of the SLC5A1, CCNA1, and ABCC1 genes and [...] Read more.
SLC5A1, CCNA1, and ABCC1 have been extensively studied as candidate genes because of their great influence on the reproductive traits of animals. However, little is known about the association between polymorphisms of the SLC5A1, CCNA1, and ABCC1 genes and litter size in Small-Tail Han sheep. In this study, the expression levels of SLC5A1, CCNA1, and ABCC1 in HPG (hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal) axis tissues of polytocous and monotocous Small-Tail Han sheep were analyzed by qPCR. To better understand the effects of four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) comprising of g.70067210 T > C in SLC5A1, g.25350431 C > T and g.25360220 T > C in CCNA1, and g.14413132 C > T in ABCC1, a population genetic analysis was conducted using data obtained from genotyping in 728 sheep from seven breeds. The results indicated that all genes included in this study were differentially expressed in the pituitary and uterus of polytocous and monotocous Small-Tail Han sheep (p < 0.05). The associations of these four SNPs and the FecB mutation with litter size in 384 Small-Tail Han sheep were analyzed, therefore, and it was found that both g.70067210T > C and the FecB mutation were significantly associated with litter size (p < 0.05). The linear regression analysis of the association of multiple markers (FecB and g.70067210 T > C in SCL5A1) with litter size indicated that homozygous ewes carrying the BB/TT genotype had larger litter size than any ewes with any other genotype. In conclusion, the SLC5A1 SNPs significantly affect litter size in sheep and are useful as genetic marker for litter size. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characterization of a Novel Porcine CSN2 Polymorphism and Its Distribution in Five European Breeds
Animals 2019, 9(7), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070419 - 04 Jul 2019
Abstract
Here, we describe a novel porcine β-casein (CNS2) polymorphism, initially identified using the isoelectric focusing (IEF) technique, and provide its distribution in five European breeds. Porcine CSN2 cDNA samples, from sows identified using IEF as carriers of polymorphic variants, were sequenced, [...] Read more.
Here, we describe a novel porcine β-casein (CNS2) polymorphism, initially identified using the isoelectric focusing (IEF) technique, and provide its distribution in five European breeds. Porcine CSN2 cDNA samples, from sows identified using IEF as carriers of polymorphic variants, were sequenced, and based on the sequence alignments, a genotyping assay was developed. The distribution of the polymorphism was investigated by genotyping 167 sows. Population genetic indexes were computed using POPGENE32 version 1.32. Sequence alignments revealed that the mutation which caused the different β-casein IEF migration profiles was c.647G>A, a substitution located in exon 7, which modifies the amino acid from position 201 of the mature protein from arginine to glutamine. The frequency of the G allele was 0.965 in the investigated Landrace population (number of individuals genotyped n = 67), one in the Pietrain population (n = 40), 0.705 in the Large White population (n = 36), 0.885 in the Bazna population (n = 13), and 0.555 in the Mangalita population (n = 11). For all breeds, except Pietrain (monomorphic), the genotype distribution was in accordance with the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Given that β-casein is the most important protein in sows’ milk, a polymorphism like the one described here may prove interesting for marker-assisted selection. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Genetic Parameters for Peak Yield, Yield and Persistency Traits in Murciano-Granadina Goats Using Multi-Traits Models
Animals 2019, 9(7), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070411 - 01 Jul 2019
Abstract
This paper studies parameters of a lactation curve such as peak yield (PY) and persistency (P), which do not conform to the usual selection criteria in the Murciano-Granadina (MG) breed, but are considered to be an alternative to benefit animal welfare without reducing [...] Read more.
This paper studies parameters of a lactation curve such as peak yield (PY) and persistency (P), which do not conform to the usual selection criteria in the Murciano-Granadina (MG) breed, but are considered to be an alternative to benefit animal welfare without reducing production. Using 315,663 production records (of 122,883 animals) over a period of 24 years (1990–2014), genetic parameters were estimated with uni-, bi- and multivariate analysis using multiple trait derivative free restricted maximum likelihood (MTDFREML). The heritability (h2)/repeatability (re) of PY, yield (Y) and P was estimated as 0.13/0.19, 0.16/0.25 and 0.08/0.09 with the uni-trait and h2 of bi- and multi-traits analysis ranging from 0.16 to 0.17 of Y, while that of PY and Y remained constant. Genetic correlations were high between PY–Y (0.94 ± 0.011) but low between PY–P (–0.16 ± 0.054 to –0.17 ± 0.054) and between Y–P (–0.06 ± 0.058 to –0.05 ± 0.058). Estimates of h2/re were low to intermediate. The selection for Y–PY or both can be implemented given the genetic correlation between these traits. PY–P and Y–P showed low to negligible correlation values indicating that if these traits are implemented in the early stages of evaluation, they would not be to the detriment of PY–Y. The combination of estimated breeding values (EBVs) for all traits would be a good criterion for selection. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Association of Ghrelin Gene Polymorphisms with Fattening Traits and Feed Intake in Pig: A Preliminary Study
Animals 2019, 9(7), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070410 - 01 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Numerous studies have been conducted to explain the biological functions and mechanism of ghrelin (GHRL) action in animals. However, the exact role of ghrelin in the regulation of growth and development in pigs is still unclear. The ghrelin gene is considered to be [...] Read more.
Numerous studies have been conducted to explain the biological functions and mechanism of ghrelin (GHRL) action in animals. However, the exact role of ghrelin in the regulation of growth and development in pigs is still unclear. The ghrelin gene is considered to be a good candidate marker for the identification of economically important traits in pig production such as feed intake, growth or carcass quality. The objectives of the present study were to investigate the regulatory regions and coding sequence of the porcine GHRL gene and determine the effect of polymorphisms at the ghrelin gene locus on selected fattening traits. Data were obtained from 346 gilts (pure breeds: Landrace, 188; Duroc, 74; Pietrain, 84). The PCR-RFLP (Polymerase Chain Reaction-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism) method was used to detect polymorphisms within GHRL. Three polymorphisms were found, one in the promoter region (c.-93A>G) and two in the 3’UTR sequence (g.4428T>C; g.4486C>T). A significant (p ≤ 0.01) additive effect on daily gain (negative) and age at slaughter (positive) was obtained at the locus c.-93A>G. However, the most promising mutation was at the locus g.4486C > T, which is associated with total feed intake. Overall, the described GHRL polymorphisms may be useful as molecular markers in pig selection but future studies are required. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Characterization of Circular RNAs in Chinese Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) Adipose Tissue: A Focus on Circular RNAs Involved in Fat Deposition
Animals 2019, 9(7), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070403 - 01 Jul 2019
Abstract
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been identified as a novel type of regulators involved in multiple biological processes. However, circRNAs with a potential function in fat deposition in buffalo are poorly understood. In this study, six RNA libraries of adipose tissue were constructed for [...] Read more.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been identified as a novel type of regulators involved in multiple biological processes. However, circRNAs with a potential function in fat deposition in buffalo are poorly understood. In this study, six RNA libraries of adipose tissue were constructed for three young and three adult Chinese buffaloes with paired-ends RNA sequencing using the Illumina HiSeq 3000 platform. A total of 5141 circRNAs were computationally identified. Among them, 252 circRNAs were differentially expressed (DE) between the young and adult buffaloes. Of these, 54 were upregulated and 198 were downregulated in the adult group. Eight DE circRNAs were further identified by quantitative real-time-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Sanger sequencing. Co-expression analysis revealed that 34 circRNAs demonstrated a strong correlation with fat deposition-associated genes (|r| > 0.980). Among these, expressional correlation between two circRNAs (19:45387150|45389986 and 21:6969877|69753491) and PR/SET domain 16 was further verified using qRT-PCR, and a strong correlation was revealed (1 > |r| > 0.8). These results strongly suggest that circRNAs 19:45387150|45389986 and 21:6969877|69753491 are potential regulators of buffalo fat deposition. In summary, this study characterized the circRNA profiles of adipose tissues at different stages for the first time and revealed two circRNAs strongly correlated with fat deposition-associated genes, which provided new candidate regulators for fat deposition in buffalo. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Two Insertion/Deletion Variants within SPAG17 Gene Are Associated with Goat Body Measurement Traits
Animals 2019, 9(6), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060379 - 21 Jun 2019
Abstract
Sperm-associated antigen 17 (SPAG17) gene encodes a multifunctional cytoplasmic protein, which influences not only reproduction but also skeletal development related body measurement traits, especially body height. Thus, this study aimed to identify crucial insertion-deletion (indel) variations, which influence the body measurement [...] Read more.
Sperm-associated antigen 17 (SPAG17) gene encodes a multifunctional cytoplasmic protein, which influences not only reproduction but also skeletal development related body measurement traits, especially body height. Thus, this study aimed to identify crucial insertion-deletion (indel) variations, which influence the body measurement traits of goats in large goat populations (n = 1725). As a result, two intronic indels (14 bp and 17 bp indel) were identified by sequencing. For the two indel loci, the distributions of genotypes and alleles were significantly different between the Shaanbei white cashmere goat (SBWC) and the Hainan black goat (HNBG). In SBWC goats, the different genotypes of the 14 bp indel were markedly associated with goat body height, chest width, body length and chest depth. The genotypes of the 17 bp indel were significantly related to body height and chest width. At the two loci, for all seven analyzed traits of SBWC goat, the growth data of DD homozygotes were the worst, which means that the 14 bp insertion and the 17 bp deletion were beneficial and detrimental variations, respectively. Moreover, the combined genotypes were significantly related to body height and chest width of SBWC goats and ten traits of HNBG. These results suggested that the 14 and 17 bp indels within SPAG17 can be used in goat growth related traits marker-assisted selection breeding, especially body height. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity of Indigenous Pigs from South China Area Revealed by SNP Array
Animals 2019, 9(6), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060361 - 16 Jun 2019
Abstract
To investigate the genetic diversity, population structure, extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD), effective population size (Ne), and selection signatures in indigenous pigs from Guangdong and Guangxi in China, 226 pigs belonging to ten diverse populations were genotyped using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips. [...] Read more.
To investigate the genetic diversity, population structure, extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD), effective population size (Ne), and selection signatures in indigenous pigs from Guangdong and Guangxi in China, 226 pigs belonging to ten diverse populations were genotyped using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips. The genetic divergence between Chinese and Western pigs was determined based on the SNP chip data. Low genetic diversity of Dahuabai (DHB), Luchuan (LC), Lantang (LT), and Meihua (MH) pigs, and introgression of Western pigs into Longlin (LL), MH, and Yuedonghei (YDH) pigs were detected. Analysis of the extent of LD showed that indigenous pigs had low LD when pairwise SNP distance was short and high LD when pairwise SNP distance was long. Effective population size analysis showed a rapid decrease for Chinese indigenous pigs, and some pig populations had a relatively small Ne. This result indicated the loss of genetic diversity in indigenous pigs, and introgression from Western commercial pigs. Selection signatures detected in this study overlapped with meat quality traits, such as drip loss, intramuscular fat content, meat color b*, and average backfat thickness. Our study deepened understanding of the conservation status and domestication of Chinese indigenous pigs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Linkage Disequilibrium and the Extent of Effective Population Sizes in Six Chinese Goat Populations Using a 50K Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Panel
Animals 2019, 9(6), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060350 - 13 Jun 2019
Abstract
Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium is a useful parameter to study quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping and genetic selection. In many genomic methodologies, effective population size is an important genetic parameter because of its relationship to the loss of genetic variation, increases in inbreeding, the [...] Read more.
Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium is a useful parameter to study quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping and genetic selection. In many genomic methodologies, effective population size is an important genetic parameter because of its relationship to the loss of genetic variation, increases in inbreeding, the accumulation of mutations, and the effectiveness of selection. In this study, a total of 193 individuals were genotyped to assess the extent of LD and Ne in six Chinese goat populations using the SNP 50K BeadChip. Across the determined autosomal chromosomes, we found an average of 0.02 and 0.23 for r2 and D’ values, respectively. The average r2 between all the populations varied little and ranged from 0.055 r2 for the Jining Grey to 0.128 r2 for the Guangfeng, with an overall mean of 0.083. Across the 29 autosomal chromosomes, minor allele frequency (MAF) was highest on chromosome 1 (0.321) and lowest on chromosome 25 (0.309), with an average MAF of 0.317, and showing the lowest (25.5% for Louping) and highest (28.8% for Qingeda) SNP proportions at MAF values > 0.3. The inbreeding coefficient ranged from 0.064 to 0.085, with a mean of 0.075 for all the autosomes. The Jining Grey and Qingeda populations showed higher Ne estimates, highlighting that these animals could have been influenced by artificial selection. Furthermore, a declining recent Ne was distinguished for the Arbas Cashmere and Guangfeng populations, and their estimated values were closer to 64 and 95, respectively, 13 generations ago, which indicates that these breeds were exposed to strong selection. This study provides an insight into valuable genetic information and will open up the opportunity for further genomic selection analysis of Chinese goat populations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genomic Analysis Reveals Specific Patterns of Homozygosity and Heterozygosity in Inbred Pigs
Animals 2019, 9(6), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060314 - 01 Jun 2019
Abstract
The inbred strain of miniature pig is an ideal model for biomedical research due to its high level of homozygosity. In this study, we investigated genetic diversity, relatedness, homozygosity, and heterozygosity using the Porcine SNP60K BeadChip in both inbred and non-inbred Wuzhishan pigs [...] Read more.
The inbred strain of miniature pig is an ideal model for biomedical research due to its high level of homozygosity. In this study, we investigated genetic diversity, relatedness, homozygosity, and heterozygosity using the Porcine SNP60K BeadChip in both inbred and non-inbred Wuzhishan pigs (WZSPs). Our results from multidimensional scaling, admixture, and phylogenetic analyses indicated that the inbred WZSP, with its unique genetic properties, can be utilized as a novel genetic resource for pig genome studies. Inbreeding depression and run of homozygosity (ROH) analyses revealed an average of 61 and 12 ROH regions in the inbred and non-inbred genomes of WZSPs, respectively. By investigating ROH number, length, and distribution across generations, we further briefly studied the impacts of recombination and demography on ROH in these WZSPs. Finally, we explored the SNPs with higher heterozygosity across generations and their potential functional implications in the inbred WZSP. We detected 56 SNPs showing constant heterozygosity with He = 1 across six generations in inbred pigs, while only one was found in the non-inbred population. Among these SNPs, we observed nine SNPs located in swine RefSeq genes, which were found to be involved in signaling and immune processes. Together, our findings indicate that the inbred-specific pattern of homozygosity and heterozygosity in inbred pigs can offer valuable insights for elucidating the mechanisms of inbreeding in farm animals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Fast and Powerful Empirical Bayes Method for Genome-Wide Association Studies
Animals 2019, 9(6), 305; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060305 - 31 May 2019
Abstract
Linear mixed model (LMM) is an efficient method for GWAS. There are numerous forms of LMM-based GWAS methods. However, improving statistical power and computing efficiency have always been the research hotspots of the LMM-based GWAS methods. Here, we proposed a fast empirical Bayes [...] Read more.
Linear mixed model (LMM) is an efficient method for GWAS. There are numerous forms of LMM-based GWAS methods. However, improving statistical power and computing efficiency have always been the research hotspots of the LMM-based GWAS methods. Here, we proposed a fast empirical Bayes method, which is based on linear mixed models. We call it Fast-EB-LMM in short. The novelty of this method is that it uses a modified kinship matrix accounting for individual relatedness to avoid competition between the locus of interest and its counterpart in the polygene. This property has increased statistical power. We adopted two special algorithms to ease the computational burden: Eigenvalue decomposition and Woodbury matrix identity. Simulation studies showed that Fast-EB-LMM has significantly increased statistical power of marker detection and improved computational efficiency compared with two widely used GWAS methods, EMMA and EB. Real data analyses for two carcass traits in a Chinese Simmental beef cattle population showed that the significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and candidate genes identified by Fast-EB-LMM are highly consistent with results of previous studies. We therefore believe that the Fast-EB-LMM method is a reliable and efficient method for GWAS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Scan Identifies Selection Signatures in Chinese Wagyu Cattle Using a High-Density SNP Array
Animals 2019, 9(6), 296; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060296 - 30 May 2019
Abstract
Selective breeding can lead to genetic diversity and diverse phenotypes in farm animals. Analysis of the genomic regions under selection can provide important insights into the genetic basis of complex traits. In this study, a high-density SNP array was used for analysis of [...] Read more.
Selective breeding can lead to genetic diversity and diverse phenotypes in farm animals. Analysis of the genomic regions under selection can provide important insights into the genetic basis of complex traits. In this study, a high-density SNP array was used for analysis of genome selection signatures in Chinese Wagyu cattle. In total, we obtained 478,903 SNPs and 24,820 no-overlap regions for |iHS| (integrated haplotype score) estimations. Under the threshold of the top 1%, 239 regions were finally identified as candidate selected regions and 162 candidate genes were found based on the UMD3.1 genome assembly. These genes were reported to be associated with fatty acids, such as Bos taurus nitric oxide synthase 1 adaptor protein (NOS1AP), Bos taurus hydroxysteroid 17-beta dehydrogenase 7 (HSD17B7), Bos taurus WD repeat domain 7 (WDR7), Bos taurus ELOVL fatty acid elongase 2 (ELOVL2), Bos taurus calpain 1 (CAPN1), Bos taurus parkin RBR E3 ubiquitin protein ligase (PRKN, also known as PARK2), Bos taurus mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 6 (MAP2K6), meat quality, including Bos taurus ADAM metallopeptidase domain 12 (ADAM12), Bos taurus 5′-aminolevulinate synthase 1 (ALAS1), Bos taurus small integral membrane protein 13 (SMIM13) and Bos taurus potassium two pore domain channel subfamily K member 2 (KCNK2), growth, and developmental traits, such as Bos taurus insulin like growth factor 2 receptor (IGF2R), Bos taurus RAR related orphan receptor A (RORA), Bos taurus fibroblast growth factor 14 (FGF14), Bos taurus paired box 6 (PAX6) and Bos taurus LIM homeobox 6 (LHX6). In addition, we identified several genes that are associated with body size and weight, including Bos taurus sorting nexin 29 (SNX29), Bos taurus zinc finger imprinted 2 (ZIM2), Bos taurus family with sequence similarity 110 member A (FAM110A), immune system, including Bos taurus toll like receptor 9 (TLR9), Bos taurus TAFA chemokine like family member 1 (TAFA1), Bos taurus glutathione peroxidase 8 (putative) (GPX8), Bos taurus interleukin 5 (IL5), Bos taurus PR domain containing 9 (PRDM9), Bos taurus glutamate ionotropic receptor kainate type subunit 2 (GRIK2) and feed intake efficiency, Bos taurus sodium voltage-gated channel alpha subunit 9 (SCN9A), Bos taurus relaxin family peptide/INSL5 receptor 4 (RXFP4), Bos taurus RNA polymerase II associated protein 3 (RPAP3). Moreover, four GO terms of biological regulation (GO:0009987, GO:0008152) and metabolic process (GO:0003824, GO:0005488) were found based on these genes. In addition, we found that 232 candidate regions (~18 Mb) overlapped with the Quantitative trait loci (QTL)regions extracted from cattle QTLdb. Our findings imply that many genes were selected for important traits in Chinese Wagyu cattle. Moreover, these results can contribute to the understanding of the genetic basis of the studied traits during the formation of this population. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Differential Expression of KCNJ12 Gene and Association Analysis of Its Missense Mutation with Growth Traits in Chinese Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(5), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050273 - 24 May 2019
Abstract
The potassium inwardly rectifying channel, subfamily J, member 12 (KCNJ12) gene is a promising candidate for economic traits because of its crucial roles in myoblast development. Here, a missense mutation (Cys > Arg) was first detected to be located in exon [...] Read more.
The potassium inwardly rectifying channel, subfamily J, member 12 (KCNJ12) gene is a promising candidate for economic traits because of its crucial roles in myoblast development. Here, a missense mutation (Cys > Arg) was first detected to be located in exon 3 of KCNJ12 from three Chinese cattle breeds by DNA-pool sequencing. Then, we performed an association analysis of this single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with stature in three Chinese cattle populations (n = 820). A significantly positive correlation was revealed by a reduced animal general linear model and the CC genotype was the most favorable in three breeds. Further, we measured the expression profile of the KCNJ12 gene in various cattle tissues and primary bovine skeletal muscle cells. Ubiquitous expression with high abundance in muscle was observed. Further, in primary bovine skeletal muscle cells, the KCNJ12 mRNA expression was gradually up-regulated in differentiation medium (DM) compared with that in growth medium (GM), suggesting that the KCNJ12 gene is involved in bovine myocyte differentiation. Conclusively, the KCNJ12 gene is a functional candidate gene which can be used as a molecular marker for cattle breeding. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Mutation Analysis of High and Low IgY Chickens by Capture Sequencing
Animals 2019, 9(5), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050272 - 23 May 2019
Abstract
Based on the results of our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS), a comprehensive analysis on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was performed on White Leghorn and Beijing-You chickens with high and low IgY levels in defined genomic regions using the capture-sequencing approach. High and [...] Read more.
Based on the results of our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS), a comprehensive analysis on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was performed on White Leghorn and Beijing-You chickens with high and low IgY levels in defined genomic regions using the capture-sequencing approach. High and low IgY chickens showed substantial genetic variations. In total, more than 30,000 SNPs were found in all four chicken groups, among which 1045 were non-synonymous mutations resulting in amino acids alterations. In total, 23,309 Indels were identified. Among the 1169 Indels that were found only in Beijing-You chickens, 702 were shared between high and low IgY chickens compared with the reference genome. There were 1016 Indels specific to the White Leghorn chickens, among which 188 were high IgY-specific, 134 were low IgY-specific and 694 were shared between the high and low IgY chicken lines. Many genetic mutations were located in the regulatory regions of important immunomodulatory genes, including TAP1, TAP2 and BF1. Our findings provide an in-depth understanding of genetic mutations in chicken microchromosomes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Selection Decisions and Trait Preferences for Local and Imported Cattle and Sheep Breeds in Peri-/Urban Livestock Production Systems in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Animals 2019, 9(5), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050207 - 30 Apr 2019
Abstract
Background: Participatory approaches of designing livestock breeding programs for tropical production systems have been extensively applied for rural livestock, whereas the peri-/urban livestock production sector tends to be widely neglected. In order to ensure the viability of the commercial cattle and sheep production [...] Read more.
Background: Participatory approaches of designing livestock breeding programs for tropical production systems have been extensively applied for rural livestock, whereas the peri-/urban livestock production sector tends to be widely neglected. In order to ensure the viability of the commercial cattle and sheep production sector in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, structured breed improvement programs are needed. The study aims to better understand selection decisions of cattle and sheep breeders and their trait preferences for local and imported breeds. Methods: 49 cattle and 31 sheep breeders in peri-/urban areas of the city were approached in personal interviews. Data were analyzed in R version 3.5.1. Results: The main motivation for keeping cattle and sheep was to generate regular cash income through the selling of milk (cattle only) and surplus animals. Some (modern) breeders used imported breeds because of higher production performances. For imported cattle breeds, improved breeding technologies and management were applied to further enhance production outputs. Nevertheless, local livestock breeds were predominantly used due to their good adaptation. Conclusions: Selection decisions and trait preferences for local and imported cattle and sheep breeds were strongly based on performance traits. Especially sheep breeders, but also traditional cattle breeders, did not record performance traits and did not take conscious breeding decisions. Full article
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