Finding genes for economically important traits: Brahman cattle puberty
Animal Production Science
Age at puberty is an important component of reproductive performance in beef cattle production systems. Brahman cattle are typically late-pubertal relative to Bos taurus cattle and so it is of economic relevance to select for early age at puberty. To assist selection and elucidate the genes underlying puberty, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using the BovineSNP50 chip (~54 000 polymorphisms) in Brahman bulls (n = 1105) and heifers (n = 843) and where the heifers were
... eifers were previously analysed in a different study. In a new attempt to generate unbiased estimates of singlenucleotide polymorphism (SNP) effects and proportion of variance explained by each SNP, the available data were halved on the basis of year and month of birth into a calibration and validation set. The traits that defined age at puberty were, in heifers, the age at which the first corpus luteum was detected (AGECL, h 2 = 0.56 AE 0.11) and in bulls, the age at a scrotal circumference of 26 cm (AGE26, h 2 = 0.78 AE 0.10). At puberty, heifers were on average older (751 AE 142 days) than bulls (555 AE 101 days), but AGECL and AGE26 were genetically correlated (r = 0.20 AE 0.10). There were 134 SNPs associated with AGECL and 146 SNPs associated with AGE26 (P < 0.0001). From these SNPs, 32 (~22%) were associated (P < 0.0001) with both traits. These top 32 SNPs were all located on Chromosome BTA 14, between 21.95 Mb and 28.4 Mb. These results suggest that the genes located in that region of BTA 14 play a role in pubertal development in Brahman cattle. There are many annotated genes underlying this region of BTA 14 and these are the subject of current research. Further, we identified a region on Chromosome X where markers were associated (P < 1.00E-8) with AGE26, but not with AGECL. Information about specific genes and markers add value to our understanding of puberty and potentially contribute to genomic selection. Therefore, identifying these genes contributing to genetic variation in AGECL and AGE26 can assist with the selection for early onset of puberty.