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Important mutation discovered in dairy cattle
Date:1/3/2014

Scientists have discovered a mutation with a built-in dilemma for dairy cattle breeders. The deleted gene sequence has a positive effect on milk yield but causes embryonic death in dairy cattle.

Scientists have found a genomic deletion that affects fertility and milk yield in dairy cattle at the same time. The discovery can help explain a dilemma in dairy cattle breeding: the negative correlation between fertility and milk production.

For the past many years milk yield in Scandinavian dairy cattle has gone in one clear direction: up. This has been due to targeted breeding programmes and modern breeding methods. Despite putting large weight in the breeding goal in Nordic countries, almost no improvement is achieved for fertility. It now seems that this unfavourable correlation between milk yield and fertility is partially affected by a deletion of a simple gene sequence. The presence and effects of this mutation have recently been discovered by scientists from Aarhus University, University of Lige, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, in collaboration with the Danish Agricultural Advisory Service and the Nordic Cattle Genetic Evaluation.

Scientists, farmers and advisors have generally assumed that the reduction in fertility is primarily due to the negative energy balance of high-producing cows at the peak of their lactation but now the scientists have also found a genetic explanation.

We have discovered a deletion encompassing four genes as the causative variant and shown that the deletion is a recessive embryonically lethal mutation, explains Goutam Sahana. This means that the calves die while they are still embryos and are aborted or reported as insemination failure. The fact that the mutation is recessive means that both parents must carry it and pass the genes on to their calf for the calf to be affected. The bulls carrying the deletion can be routinely identified in on-going genomic selection program and by avoiding carrie
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Contact: Goutam Sahana
goutam.sahana@agrsci.dk
45-87-15-75-01
Aarhus University
Source:Eurekalert

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