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Müller, M.-P.; Rothammer, S.; Seichter, D.; Russ, I.; Hinrichs, D.; Tetens, J.; Thaller, G.; Medugorac, I. (2017): Genome-wide mapping of 10 calving and fertility traits in Holstein dairy cattle with special regard to chromosome 18. In: Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 100, No. 3: pp. 1987-2006
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Abstract

Over the last decades, a dramatic decrease in reproductive performance has been observed in Holstein cattle and fertility problems have become the most common reason for a cow to leave the herd. The premature removal of animals with high breeding values results in both economic and breeding losses. For efficient future Holstein breeding, the identification of loci associated with low fertility is of major interest and thus constitutes the aim of this study. To reach this aim, a genome-wide combined linkage disequilibrium and linkage analysis (cLDLA) was conducted using data on the following 10 calving and fertility traits in the form of estimated breeding values: days from first service to conception of heifers and cows, nonreturn rate on d 56 of heifers and cows, days from calving to first insemination, days open, paternal and maternal calving ease, paternal and maternal stillbirth. The animal data set contained 2,527 daughter-proven Holstein bulls from Germany that were genotyped with Illumina's BovineSNP50 BeadChip (Illumina Inc., San Diego, CA). For the cLDLA, 41,635 sliding windows of 40 adjacent single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were used. At each window midpoint, a variance component analysis was executed using ASReml. The underlying mixed linear model included random quantitative trait locus (QTL) and polygenic effects. We identified 50 genome-wide significant QTL. The most significant peak was detected for direct calving ease at 59,179,424 bp on chromosome 18 (BTA18). Next, a mixed-linear model association (MLMA) analysis was conducted. A comparison of the cLDLA and MLMA results with special regard to BTA18 showed that the genome-wide most significant SNP from the MLMA was associated with the same trait and located on the same chromosome at 57,589,121 bp (i.e., about 1.5 Mb apart from the cLDLA peak). The results of 5 different cLDLA and 2 MLMA models, which included the fixed effects of either SNP or haplotypes, suggested that the cLDLA method outperformed the MLMA in accuracy and precision. The haplotype-based cLDLA method allowed for a more precise mapping and the definition of ancestral and derived QTL alleles, both of which are essential for the detection of underlying quantitative trait nucleotides.