Selective signatures in composite MONTANA TROPICAL beef cattle reveal potential genomic regions for tropical adaptation

PLoS One. 2024 Apr 25;19(4):e0301937. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0301937. eCollection 2024.


Genomic regions related to tropical adaptability are of paramount importance for animal breeding nowadays, especially in the context of global climate change. Moreover, understanding the genomic architecture of these regions may be very relevant for aiding breeding programs in choosing the best selection scheme for tropical adaptation and/or implementing a crossbreeding scheme. The composite MONTANA TROPICAL® population was developed by crossing cattle of four different biological types to improve production in harsh environments. Pedigree and genotype data (51962 SNPs) from 3215 MONTANA TROPICAL® cattle were used to i) characterize the population structure; ii) identify signatures of selection with complementary approaches, i.e. Integrated Haplotype Score (iHS) and Runs of Homozygosity (ROH); and iii) understand genes and traits related to each selected region. The population structure based on principal components had a weak relationship with the genetic contribution of the different biological types. Clustering analyses (ADMIXTURE) showed different clusters according to the number of generations within the composite population. Considering results of both selection signatures approaches, we identified only one consensus region on chromosome 20 (35399405-40329703 bp). Genes in this region are related to immune function, regulation of epithelial cell differentiation, and cell response to ionizing radiation. This region harbors the slick locus which is related to slick hair and epidermis anatomy, both of which are related to heat stress adaptation. Also, QTLs in this region were related to feed intake, milk yield, mastitis, reproduction, and slick hair coat. The signatures of selection detected here arose in a few generations after crossbreeding between contrasting breeds. Therefore, it shows how important this genomic region may be for these animals to thrive in tropical conditions. Further investigations on sequencing this region can identify candidate genes for animal breeding and/or gene editing to tackle the challenges of climate change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cattle / genetics
  • Female
  • Genome
  • Genomics / methods
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Male
  • Montana
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Red Meat
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Tropical Climate*

Grants and funding

Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia Goiano (IF Goiano) and National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript only in the financial support and the infrastructure.