In silico exploration of the effects of host genotype and nutrition on the genetic parameters of lambs challenged with gastrointestinal parasites

D. Vagenas, A. Doeschl-Wilson, S. C. Bishop, I. Kyriazakis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An in silico mathematical model was used to explore the effect of, and the interaction between, (i) nutrition, (ii) genotype for growth and (iii) genotype for resistance, on the estimates of genetic parameters for resistance and performance in a population of lambs trickle-challenged daily with 3,000 L3s of Teladorsagia circumcincta. A previously published model for nematode infections in sheep was developed to include heritable variation in sheep growth traits, as well as in immunologically controlled traits such as establishment of incoming larvae, mortality of the adult worms and fecundity of the adult female worms. The simulated population comprised 10,000 lambs, these being the offspring of 250 sires mated to 5,000 dams. The model assumed the lambs to be parasitologically naive at weaning (2 months of age), at which point the trickle challenge commenced and the model was updated daily until slaughter (at 6 months of age). Dietary treatments included a good and a poor quality feed, offered ad libitum. Two genotypes for growth were assumed: (i) fast and (ii) slow growing. Three genotypes for resistance were used: (i) benchmark, (ii) susceptible and (iii) resistant, differing in their ability to cope with nematode infections. Genetic parameters for output traits, including growth rate, food intake, worm burden and faecal egg count were estimated using a linear mixed model, fitting sire as a random effect to capture genetic effects. Heritabilities and correlations were found to change over time. In general, the heritabilities of immunity traits increased over time, whereas genetic correlations between production and immunity traits became weaker. Diet had a significant effect on the means and the estimated correlations of output traits, while genotypes for growth and resistance had smaller effects. These results suggest that discrepancies between published genetic parameters for nematode resistance may be a function of environmental factors rather than differences in host genotype. (C) 2007 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1617-1630
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal For Parasitology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mathematical model
  • sheep
  • nematodes
  • nutrition
  • genotype
  • genetic parameters


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