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Anim Genet. 2009 Jun;40(3):279-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2008.01831.x. Epub 2009 Feb 10.

Linkage disequilibrium in the North American Holstein population.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Linkage disequilibrium was estimated using 7119 single nucleotide polymorphism markers across the genome and 200 animals from the North American Holstein cattle population. The analysis of maternally inherited haplotypes revealed strong linkage disequilibrium (r(2) > 0.8) in genomic regions of approximately 50 kb or less. While linkage disequilibrium decays as a function of genomic distance, genomic regions within genes showed greater linkage disequilibrium and greater variation in linkage disequilibrium compared with intergenic regions. Identification of haplotype blocks could characterize the most common haplotypes. Although maximum haplotype block size was over 1 Mb, mean block size was 26-113 kb by various definitions, which was larger than that observed in humans ( approximately 10 kb). Effective population size of the dairy cattle population was estimated from linkage disequilibrium between single nucleotide polymorphism marker pairs in various haplotype ranges. Rapid reduction of effective population size of dairy cattle was inferred from linkage disequilibrium in recent generations. This result implies a loss of genetic diversity because of the high rate of inbreeding and high selection intensity in dairy cattle. The pattern observed in this study indicated linkage disequilibrium in the current dairy cattle population could be exploited to refine mapping resolution. Changes in effective population size during past generations imply a necessity of plans to maintain polymorphism in the Holstein population.

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