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Keywords:

  • cattle;
  • clinical mastitis;
  • haplotypes;
  • protein yield;
  • QTL;
  • selection sweeps

Summary

Quantitative trait loci affecting clinical mastitis were detected and fine mapped to a narrow region on bovine chromosome 6 in the Norwegian Red cattle population. The region includes the casein gene cluster and several candidate genes thought to influence clinical mastitis. The most significant results were found for SNPs within the Mucin 7 gene. This gene encodes an antimicrobial peptide and constitutes part of the first line of defence for the mucosal immune system. Detection of long haplotypes extending several Mb may indicate that artificial selection has influenced the haplotype structures in the region. A search for selection sweeps supports this observation and coincides with association results found both by single SNP and haplotype analyses. Our analyses identified haplotypes carrying quantitative trait loci alleles associated with high protein yield and simultaneously fewer incidences of clinical mastitis. The fact that such haplotypes are found in relative high frequencies in Norwegian Red may reflect the combined breeding goal that is characterized by selection for both milk production and disease resistance. The identification of these haplotypes raises the possibility of overcoming the unfavourable genetic correlation between these traits through haplotype-assisted selection.