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Insights into the genetic variation of maternal behavior and suckling performance of continental beef cows

Alexis Michenet * Romain Saintilan Eric Venot Florence Phocas
* Corresponding author
Abstract : BackgroundIn beef cattle, maternal care is critical for calf survival and growth. Our objective was to evaluate the major sources of additive genetic variation in maternal behavior and suckling performance in two genetically close beef breeds.MethodsMaternal performance was assessed based on maternal behavior (MB), milk yield (MY) and udder swelling score (US) of 1236 Blonde d’Aquitaine cows and 1048 Limousin cows. MB was scored just after calving to describe the intensity of the dam’s protective behavior towards her calf. Most of the cows were genotyped using the low-density chip EuroG10K BeadChip, and imputed to the high-density 770K panel within breed. Genetic parameters for each trait were estimated for each breed under a multi-trait best linear unbiased prediction animal model. Genomic analysis was performed for each breed using the high-density genotypes and a Bayesian variable selection method.ResultsHeritabilities were low for MB (0.11–0.13), intermediate for MY (0.33–0.45) and high for US (0.47–0.64). Genetic correlations between the traits ranged from 0.31 to 0.58 and 0.72 to 0.99 for the Blonde d’Aquitaine and Limousin breeds, respectively. Two quantitative trait loci (QTL) were detected for MB in Blonde d’Aquitaine with NPY1R and ADRA2A as candidate causative genes. Thirty to 56 QTL were detected for MY and US in both breeds and 12 candidate genes were identified as having a role in the genetic variation of suckling performance. Since very few pleiotropic QTL were detected, there was little biological explanation for the moderate (0.57) to very high (0.99) genetic correlations estimated between MY and US in the Blonde d’Aquitaine and Limousin cows, respectively. In Blonde d’Aquitaine, the correlation was largely due to the pleiotropic QTL detected in the region upstream of the CG gene, while in Limousin, this region was only identified for US, thus attesting the difference in genetic architecture between the breeds.ConclusionsOur findings question the assumption that two populations that have close genetic links share many QTL. Nevertheless, we identified four candidate genes that may explain a substantial amount of the genetic variation in suckling performance of these two breeds.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 4, 2016 - 1:29:22 PM
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Alexis Michenet, Romain Saintilan, Eric Venot, Florence Phocas. Insights into the genetic variation of maternal behavior and suckling performance of continental beef cows. Genetics Selection Evolution, 2016, 48 (1), pp.45. ⟨10.1186/s12711-016-0223-z⟩. ⟨hal-01341379⟩

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