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Polymorphisms in genes of the somatotrophic axis are independently associated with milk production, udder health, survival and animal size in Holstein‐Friesian dairy cattle

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The somatotrophic axis consisting of pituitary‐derived growth hormone and circulating insulin‐like growth factor 1 has been well established as key regulators of animal health, metabolism, lactation, fertility, body composition and growth rate. The aim of this study was to simultaneously quantify the associations between SNPs in candidate genes of the somatotrophic axis (i.e., IGF‐1, GH1 and GHR) with performance traits in Holstein‐Friesian (HF) dairy cattle. Both novel SNPs identified previously by this group alongside other published SNPs within these genes were analysed for associations with performance in dairy cattle. Multiple regression analyses regressing genetic merit of up to 848 HF sires on novel SNPs (n = 76) and published SNPs (n = 33) were undertaken using weighted animal mixed linear models. Twenty‐three SNPs were significantly associated with at least one of 18 traits analysed and involved in milk production, udder health, fertility and growth. Eight traits including milk fat composition, carcass conformation, stature, chest width, body depth, rump width, carcass and cull cow weight were independently associated with SNPs in two genes. Furthermore, for several traits including milk fat yield, somatic cell count, survival and carcass fat, SNPs in all three genes were independently associated with performance. Milk fat yield and carcass fat showed the highest number of independent associations across all three genes with five SNPs associated with both traits. The cumulative effects of the favourable alleles of all five SNPs across GH1, GHR and IGF‐1 result in an increase of 5.9 kg and 28.6 units of milk fat and carcass fat, respectively. Cow survival was associated with a single SNP in each of the three genes with a cumulative allele effect of 1.5%. Independent effects of polymorphisms in GH1, GHR and IGF‐1 reinforce the central role of the somatotrophic axis on animal development and performance.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: 1: Teagasc, Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre,  Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath, Ireland 2:  Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland 3:  Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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