Assessment of genotyping array performance for genome-wide association studies and imputation in African cattle

Valentina Riggio, Abdulfatai Tijjani, Rebecca Callaby, Andrea Talenti, David Wragg, Emmanuel T. Obishakin, Chukwunonso Ezeasor, Frans Jongejan, Ndudim I. Ogo, Fred Aboagye-Antwi, Alassane Toure, Jahashi Nzalawahe, Boubacar Diallo, Ayao Missohou, Adrien M.G. Belem, Appolinaire Djikeng, Nick Juleff, Josephus Fourie, Michel Labuschagne, Maxime MadderKaren Marshall, James Prendergast, Liam Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: In cattle, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have largely focused on European or Asian breeds, using genotyping arrays that were primarily designed for European cattle. Because there is growing interest in performing GWAS in African breeds, we have assessed the performance of 23 commercial bovine genotyping arrays for capturing the diversity across African breeds and performing imputation. We used 409 whole-genome sequences (WGS) spanning global cattle breeds, and a real cohort of 2481 individuals (including African breeds) that were genotyped with the Illumina high-density (HD) array and the GeneSeek bovine 50 k array.

RESULTS: We found that commercially available arrays were not effective in capturing variants that segregate among African indicine animals. Only 6% of these variants in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) (r 2  > 0.8) were on the best performing arrays, which contrasts with the 17% and 25% in African and European taurine cattle, respectively. However, imputation from available HD arrays can successfully capture most variants (accuracies up to 0.93), mainly when using a global, not continent-specific, reference panel, which partially reflects the unusually high levels of admixture on the continent. When considering functional variants, the GGPF250 array performed best for tagging WGS variants and imputation. Finally, we show that imputation from low-density arrays can perform almost as well as HD arrays, if a two-stage imputation approach is adopted, i.e. first imputing to HD and then to WGS, which can potentially reduce the costs of GWAS.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the choice of an array should be based on a balance between the objective of the study and the breed/population considered, with the HD and BOS1 arrays being the best choice for both taurine and indicine breeds when performing GWAS, and the GGPF250 being preferable for fine-mapping studies. Moreover, our results suggest that there is no advantage to using the indicus-specific arrays for indicus breeds, regardless of the objective. Finally, we show that using a reference panel that better represents global bovine diversity improves imputation accuracy, particularly for non-European taurine populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54:58
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Early online date4 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2022


  • Animals
  • Cattle/genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Taurine


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