BACKGROUND: Feed efficiency is one of the key determinants of beef industry profitability and sustainability. However, the cellular and molecular background behind feed efficiency is largely unknown. This study combines imputed whole genome DNA variants and 31 plasma metabolites to dissect genes and biological functions/processes that are associated with residual feed intake (RFI) and its component traits including daily dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), and metabolic body weight (MWT) in beef cattle.
RESULTS: Regression analyses between feed efficiency traits and plasma metabolites in a population of 493 crossbred beef cattle identified 5 (L-valine, lysine, L-tyrosine, L-isoleucine, and L-leucine), 4 (lysine, L-lactic acid, L-tyrosine, and choline), 1 (citric acid), and 4 (L-glutamine, glycine, citric acid, and dimethyl sulfone) plasma metabolites associated with RFI, DMI, ADG, and MWT (P-value < 0.1), respectively. Combining the results of metabolome-genome wide association studies using 10,488,742 imputed SNPs, 40, 66, 15, and 40 unique candidate genes were identified as associated with RFI, DMI, ADG, and MWT (P-value < 1 × 10-5), respectively. These candidate genes were found to be involved in some key metabolic processes including metabolism of lipids, molecular transportation, cellular function and maintenance, cell morphology and biochemistry of small molecules.
CONCLUSIONS: This study identified metabolites, candidate genes and enriched biological functions/processes associated with RFI and its component traits through the integrative analyses of metabolites with phenotypic traits and DNA variants. Our findings could enhance the understanding of biochemical mechanisms of feed efficiency traits and could lead to improvement of genomic prediction accuracy via incorporating metabolite data.
- Animal Feed/analysis
- Genome-Wide Association Study