Using singleton densities to detect recent selection in Bos taurus

Matthew Hartfield*, Nina Aagaard Poulsen, Bernt Guldbrandtsen, Thomas Bataillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many quantitative traits are subject to polygenic selection, where several genomic regions undergo small, simultaneous changes in allele frequency that collectively alter a phenotype. The widespread availability of genome data, along with novel statistical techniques, has made it easier to detect these changes. We apply one such method, the “Singleton Density Score” (SDS), to the Holstein breed of Bos taurus to detect recent selection (arising up to around 740 years ago). We identify several genes as candidates for targets of recent selection, including some relating to cell regulation, catabolic processes, neural-cell adhesion and immunity. We do not find strong evidence that three traits that are important to humans—milk protein content, milk fat content, and stature—have been subject to directional selection. Simulations demonstrate that because B. taurus recently experienced a population bottleneck, singletons are depleted so the power of SDS methods is reduced. These results inform on which genes underlie recent genetic change in B. taurus, while providing information on how polygenic selection can be best investigated in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalEvolution Letters
Early online date22 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bos taurus
  • genomics
  • milk fat
  • milk protein
  • selection
  • stature


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