Population structure and identification of genomic regions associated with productive traits in five Italian beef cattle breeds

Sci Rep. 2024 Apr 12;14(1):8529. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-59269-z.


Italy has a long history in beef production, with local breeds such as Marchigiana, Chianina, Romagnola, Maremmana, and Podolica which produce high-quality meat. Selection has improved meat production, precocity, growth ability and muscle development, but the genetic determinism of such traits is mostly unknown. Using 33K SNPs-data from young bulls (N = 4064) belonging to these five Italian breeds, we demonstrated that the Maremmana and Podolica rustic breeds are closely related, while the specialised Marchigiana, Chianina, and Romagnola breeds are more differentiated. A genome-wide association study for growth and muscle development traits (average daily gain during the performance test, weight at 1 year old, muscularity) was conducted in the five Italian breeds. Results indicated a region on chromosome 2, containing the myostatin gene (MSTN), which displayed significant genome-wide associations with muscularity in Marchigiana cattle, a breed in which the muscle hypertrophy phenotype is segregating. Moreover, a significant SNP on chromosome 14 was associated, in the Chianina breed, to muscularity. The identification of diverse genomic regions associated with conformation traits might increase our knowledge about the genomic basis of such traits in Italian beef cattle and, eventually, such information could be used to implement marker-assisted selection of young bulls tested in the performance test.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 14
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Phenotype