Identification of large selective sweeps associated with major genes in cattle

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Summary

Selection for new favorable variants can lead to selective sweeps. However, such sweeps might be rare in the evolution of different species for which polygenic adaptation or selection on standing variation might be more common. Still, strong selective sweeps have been described in domestic species such as chicken lines or dog breeds. The goal of our study was to use a panel of individuals from 12 different cattle breeds genotyped at high density (800K SNPs) to perform a whole-genome scan for selective sweeps defined as unexpectedly long stretches of reduced heterozygosity. To that end, we developed a hidden Markov model in which one of the hidden states corresponds to regions of reduced heterozygosity. Some unexpectedly long regions were identified. Among those, six contained genes known to affect traits with simple genetic architecture such as coat color or horn development. However, there was little evidence for sweeps associated with genes underlying production traits.

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