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J Dairy Sci. 2019 Nov;102(11):10020-10029. doi: 10.3168/jds.2019-17068. Epub 2019 Aug 30.

Association of lipid-related genes implicated in conceptus elongation with female fertility traits in dairy cattle.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611.
Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611; University of Florida Genetics Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611. Electronic address:


Elongation of the preimplantation conceptus is a requirement for pregnancy success in ruminants, and failures in this process are highly associated with subfertility in dairy cattle. Identifying genetic markers that are related to early conceptus development and survival and utilizing these markers in selective breeding can improve the reproductive efficiency of dairy herds. Here, we evaluated the association of 1,679 SNP markers within or close to 183 candidate genes involved in lipid metabolism of the elongating conceptus with different fertility traits in US Holstein cattle. A total of 27,371 bulls with predicted transmitting ability records for daughter pregnancy rate, cow conception rate, and heifer conception rate were used as the discovery population. The associations found in the discovery population were validated using 2 female populations (1,122 heifers and 2,138 lactating cows) each with 4 fertility traits, including success to first insemination, number of services per conception, age at first conception for heifers, or days open for cows. Marker effects were estimated using a linear mixed model with SNP genotype as a linear covariate and a random polygenic effect. After multiple testing correction, 39 SNP flagging 27 candidate genes were associated with at least one fertility trait in the discovery population. Of these 39 markers, 3 SNP were validated in the heifer population and 4 SNP were validated in the cow population. The 3 SNP validated in heifers are located within or near genes CAT, MYOF, and RBP4, and the 4 SNP validated in lactating cows are located within or close to genes CHKA, GNAI1, and HMOX2. These validated genes seem to be relevant for reducing pregnancy losses, and the SNP within these genes are excellent candidates for inclusion in genomic tests to improve reproductive performance in dairy cattle.


candidate genes; conceptus development; reproductive traits; validation study

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