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Genomic Regions Underlying Susceptibility to Bovine Tuberculosis in Holstein-Friesian Cattle

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    Rights statement: © The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27
JournalBMC Genetics
Issue number1
Early online date23 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Mar 2017


Background: The significant social and economic loss as a result of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) presents a continuous challenge to cattle industries in the UK and worldwide. However, host genetic variation in cattle susceptibility to bTB provides an opportunity to select for resistant animals and further understand the genetic mechanisms underlying disease dynamics.
Results: The present study identified genomic regions associated with susceptibility to bTB using genome-wide association (GWA), regional heritability mapping (RHM) and chromosome association approaches. Phenotypes comprised de-regressed estimated breeding values of 804 Holstein-Friesian sires and pertained to three bTB indicator traits: i) positive reactors to the skin test with positive post-mortem examination results (phenotype 1); ii) positive reactors to the skin test regardless of post-mortem examination results (phenotype 2) and iii) as in (ii) plus non-reactors and inconclusive reactors to the skin tests with positive post-mortem examination results (phenotype 3). Genotypes based on the 50K SNP DNA array were available and a total of 34,874 SNPs remained per animal after quality control. The estimated polygenic heritability for susceptibility to bTB was 0.26, 0.37 and 0.34 for phenotypes 1, 2 and 3, respectively. GWA analysis identified a putative SNP on Bos taurus autosomes (BTA) 2 associated with phenotype 1, and another on BTA 23 associated with phenotype 2. Genomic regions encompassing these SNPs were found to harbour potentially relevant annotated genes. RHM confirmed the effect of these genomic regions and identified new regions on BTA 18 for phenotype 1 and BTA 3 for phenotypes 2 and 3. Heritabilities of the genomic regions ranged between 0.05 and 0.08 across the three phenotypes. Chromosome association analysis indicated a major role of BTA 23 on susceptibility to bTB.
Conclusion: Genomic regions and candidate genes identified in the present study provide an opportunity to further understand pathways critical to cattle susceptibility to bTB and enhance genetic improvement programmes aiming at controlling and eradicating the disease.

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