A validated genome wide association study to breed cattle adapted to an environment altered by climate change

PLoS One. 2009 Aug 18;4(8):e6676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006676.


Continued production of food in areas predicted to be most affected by climate change, such as dairy farming regions of Australia, will be a major challenge in coming decades. Along with rising temperatures and water shortages, scarcity of inputs such as high energy feeds is predicted. With the motivation of selecting cattle adapted to these changing environments, we conducted a genome wide association study to detect DNA markers (single nucleotide polymorphisms) associated with the sensitivity of milk production to environmental conditions. To do this we combined historical milk production and weather records with dense marker genotypes on dairy sires with many daughters milking across a wide range of production environments in Australia. Markers associated with sensitivity of milk production to feeding level and sensitivity of milk production to temperature humidity index on chromosome nine and twenty nine respectively were validated in two independent populations, one a different breed of cattle. As the extent of linkage disequilibrium across cattle breeds is limited, the underlying causative mutations have been mapped to a small genomic interval containing two promising candidate genes. The validated marker panels we have reported here will aid selection for high milk production under anticipated climate change scenarios, for example selection of sires whose daughters will be most productive at low levels of feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Breeding*
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Climate Change*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / veterinary*