Management of lethal recessive alleles in beef cattle through the use of mate selection software

Abstract : AbstractBackgroundRecessive loss-of-function (LOF) alleles at genes which are essential for life, can result in early embryonic mortality. Cattle producers can use the LOF carrier status of individual animals to make selection and mate allocation decisions.MethodsTwo beef cattle breeding strategies i.e. (1) selection against LOF carriers as parents and (2) simultaneous selection and mate allocation to avoid the occurrence of homozygous offspring in three scenarios, which differed in number and frequency of LOF alleles were evaluated using the mate selection program, MateSel. Scenarios included (a) seven loci with high-frequency LOF alleles, (b) 76 loci with low-frequency LOF alleles, and (c) 50 loci with random high- and low-frequency LOF alleles. In addition, any savings resulting from the information obtained by varying the percentage (0–100%) of the herd genotyped, together with segregation analysis to cover ungenotyped animals, were calculated to determine (1) which percentage optimized net profit for a fixed cost of genotyping ($30/test), and (2) the breakeven cost for genotyping.ResultsWith full knowledge of the LOF alleles carried by selection candidates, the most profitable breeding strategy was always simultaneous selection and mate allocation to avoid homozygous affected offspring (aa) as compared to indiscriminate selection against carrier parents (Aa). The breakeven value of genotyping depended on the number of loci modeled, the LOF allele frequencies, and the mating/selection strategies used. Genotyping was most valuable when it was used to avoid otherwise high levels of embryonic mortalities. As the number of essential loci with LOF alleles increased, especially when some were present at relatively high minor allele frequencies, embryonic losses increased, and profit was maximized by genotyping 10 to 20% of a herd and using that information to reduce these losses.ConclusionsGenotyping 100% of the herd was never the most profitable outcome in any scenario; however, genotyping some proportion of the herd, together with segregation analysis to cover ungenotyped animals, maximized overall profit in scenarios with large numbers of loci with LOF alleles. As more LOF alleles are identified, such a mate selection software will likely be required to optimally select and allocate matings to balance the rate of genetic gain, embryonic losses, and inbreeding.
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Lindsay R. Upperman, Brian P. Kinghorn, Michael D. Macneil, Alison L. van Eenennaam. Management of lethal recessive alleles in beef cattle through the use of mate selection software. Genetics Selection Evolution, BioMed Central, 2019, 51 (1), pp.36. ⟨10.1186/s12711-019-0477-3⟩. ⟨hal-02265709⟩

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