Whole-genome scan to detect quantitative trait loci associated with milk protein composition in 3 French dairy cattle breeds

J Dairy Sci. 2016 Oct;99(10):8203-8215. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-11437. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


In the context of the PhénoFinLait project, a genome-wide analysis was performed to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) that affect milk protein composition estimated using mid-infrared spectrometry in the Montbéliarde (MO), Normande (NO), and Holstein (HO) French dairy cattle breeds. The 6 main milk proteins (α-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, and αS1-, αS2-, β-, and κ-caseins) expressed as grams per 100g of milk (% of milk) or as grams per 100g of protein (% of protein) were estimated in 848,068 test-day milk samples from 156,660 cows. Genotyping was performed for 2,773 MO, 2,673 NO, and 2,208 HO cows using the Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip (Illumina Inc., San Diego, CA). Individual test-day records were adjusted for environmental effects and then averaged per cow to define the phenotypes analyzed. Quantitative trait loci detection was performed within each breed using a linkage disequilibrium and linkage analysis approach. A total of 39 genomic regions distributed on 20 of the 29 Bos taurus autosomes (BTA) were significantly associated with milk protein composition at a genome-wide level of significance in at least 1 of the 3 breeds. The 9 most significant QTL were located on BTA2 (133 Mbp), BTA6 (38, 47, and 87 Mbp), BTA11 (103 Mbp), BTA14 (1.8 Mbp), BTA20 (32 and 58 Mbp), and BTA29 (8 Mbp). The BTA6 (87 Mbp), BTA11, and BTA20 (58 Mbp) QTL were found in all 3 breeds, and they had highly significant effects on κ-casein, β-lactoglobulin, and α-lactalbumin, expressed as a percentage of protein, respectively. Each of these QTL explained between 13% (BTA14) and 51% (BTA11) of the genetic variance of the trait. Many other QTL regions were also identified in at least one breed. They were located on 14 additional chromosomes (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, and 27), and they explained 2 to 8% of the genetic variance of 1 or more protein composition traits. Concordance analyses, performed between QTL status and sequence-derived polymorphisms from 13 bulls, revealed previously known causal polymorphisms in LGB (BTA11) and GHR (BTA20 at 32 Mbp) and excluded some other previously described mutations. These results constitute a first step in identifying causal mutations and using routinely collected mid-infrared predictions in future genomic selection programs to improve bovine milk protein composition.

Keywords: dairy cattle; mid-infrared spectrometry; protein composition; quantitative trait loci.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk Proteins*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*


  • Milk Proteins