Evidence for genetic variance in resistance to tuberculosis in Great Britain and Irish Holstein-Friesian populations

Mairead Lesley Bermingham, Susan Brotherstone, Donagh P Berry, Simon More, M Good, A Cromie, Ian White, I M Higgans, M. P. Coffey, S. H. Downs, Elizabeth Glass, Stephen Bishop, A. P. Mitchell, R. S. Clifton-Hadley, John Woolliams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Here, we jointly summarise scientific evidence for genetic variation in resistance to infection with Mycobacterium bovis, the primary agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB), provided by two recent and separate studies of Holstein-Friesian dairy cow populations in Great Britain (GB) and Ireland.

The studies quantified genetic variation within archived data from field and abattoir surveillance control programmes within each country. These data included results from the single intradermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT), abattoir inspection for TB lesions and laboratory confirmation of disease status. Threshold animal models were used to estimate variance components for responsiveness to the SICTT and abattoir confirmed M. bovis infection. The link functions between the observed 0/1 scale and the liability scale were the complementary log-log in the GB, and logit link function in the Irish population.
Results and discussion

The estimated heritability of susceptibility to TB, as judged by responsiveness to the SICTT, was 0.16 (0.012) and 0.14 (0.025) in the GB and Irish populations, respectively. For abattoir or laboratory confirmation of infection, estimates were 0.18 (0.044) and 0.18 (0.041) from the GB and the Irish populations, respectively.

Estimates were all significantly different from zero and indicate that exploitable variation exists among GB and Irish Holstein Friesian dairy cows for resistance to TB. Epidemiological analysis suggests that factors such as variation in exposure or imperfect sensitivity and specificity would have resulted in underestimation of the true values.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberS14
JournalBMC Proceedings
Issue numberSuppl 4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventAGAH-2010: Animal Genomics for Animal Health International Symposium - Paris, France
Duration: 31 May 20102 Jun 2010


  • Bovine Tuberculosis
  • Heritability
  • Ireland
  • UK
  • Holstein Friesians
  • Dairy cows


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for genetic variance in resistance to tuberculosis in Great Britain and Irish Holstein-Friesian populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this