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A genome-wide scan for signatures of recent selection in Holstein cattle


S. Qanbari, Animal Breeding and Genetics Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Georg-August University, Albrecht-Thaer-Weg 3, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.E-mail:


The data from the newly available 50 K SNP chip was used for tagging the genome-wide footprints of positive selection in Holstein–Friesian cattle. For this purpose, we employed the recently described Extended Haplotype Homozygosity test, which detects selection by measuring the characteristics of haplotypes within a single population. To assess formally the significance of these results, we compared the combination of frequency and the Relative Extended Haplotype Homozygosity value of each core haplotype with equally frequent haplotypes across the genome. A subset of the putative regions showing the highest significance in the genome-wide EHH tests was mapped. We annotated genes to identify possible influence they have in beneficial traits by using the Gene Ontology database. A panel of genes, including FABP3, CLPN3, SPERT, HTR2A5, ABCE1, BMP4 and PTGER2, was detected, which overlapped with the most extreme P-values. This panel comprises some interesting candidate genes and QTL, representing a broad range of economically important traits such as milk yield and composition, as well as reproductive and behavioural traits. We also report high values of linkage disequilibrium and a slower decay of haplotype homozygosity for some candidate regions harbouring major genes related to dairy quality. The results of this study provide a genome-wide map of selection footprints in the Holstein genome, and can be used to better understand the mechanisms of selection in dairy cattle breeding.

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