Mining massive genomic data of two Swiss Braunvieh cattle populations reveals six novel candidate variants that impair reproductive success

Genet Sel Evol. 2021 Dec 16;53(1):95. doi: 10.1186/s12711-021-00686-3.


Background: This study was carried out on the two Braunvieh populations reared in Switzerland, the dairy Brown Swiss (BS) and the dual-purpose Original Braunvieh (OB). We performed a genome-wide analysis of array data of trios (sire, dam, and offspring) from the routine genomic selection to identify candidate regions showing missing homozygosity and phenotypic associations with five fertility, ten birth, and nine growth-related traits. In addition, genome-wide single SNP regression studies based on 114,890 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for each of the two populations were performed. Furthermore, whole-genome sequencing data of 430 cattle including 70 putative haplotype carriers were mined to identify potential candidate variants that were validated by genotyping the current population using a custom array.

Results: Using a trio-based approach, we identified 38 haplotype regions for BS and five for OB that segregated at low to moderate frequencies. For the BS population, we confirmed two known haplotypes, BH1 and BH2. Twenty-four variants that potentially explained the missing homozygosity and associated traits were detected, in addition to the previously reported TUBD1:p.His210Arg variant associated with BH2. For example, for BS we identified a stop-gain variant (p.Arg57*) in the MRPL55 gene in the haplotype region on chromosome 7. This region is associated with the 'interval between first and last insemination' trait in our data, and the MRPL55 gene is known to be associated with early pregnancy loss in mice. In addition, we discuss candidate missense variants in the CPT1C, MARS2, and ACSL5 genes for haplotypes mapped in BS. In OB, we highlight a haplotype region on chromosome 19, which is potentially caused by a frameshift variant (p.Lys828fs) in the LIG3 gene, which is reported to be associated with early embryonic lethality in mice. Furthermore, we propose another potential causal missense variant in the TUBGCP5 gene for a haplotype mapped in OB.

Conclusions: We describe, for the first time, several haplotype regions that segregate at low to moderate frequencies and provide evidence of causality by trait associations in the two populations of Swiss Braunvieh. We propose a list of six protein-changing variants as potentially causing missing homozygosity. These variants need to be functionally validated and incorporated in the breeding program.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / genetics
  • Fertility / genetics
  • Genomics*
  • Haplotypes
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Reproduction* / genetics