Journal of applied genetics

Assessing the degree of stratification between closely related Holstein-Friesian populations.

PMID 28986737


Genomic information is an important part of the routine evaluation of dairy cattle and provides the wide availability of animals genotyped using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) microarrays. We analyzed 2243 Polish and 2294 German Holstein-Friesian bulls genotyped using the Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip. For each bull, estimated breeding values (EBVs) calculated from national routine genetic evaluation were available for production traits and for somatic cell score (SCS). Separately for each population, we estimated SNP haplotypes, pairwise linkage disequilibrium (LD), and SNP effects. The SNP genetic covariance between both populations was estimated using a bivariate mixed model. The average LD was lower in the Polish than in the German population and, with increasing genomic distance, LD decays 1.7 times more rapidly in German than in Polish cattle. The comparison of SNP allele frequencies for base populations estimated separately using Polish and German data revealed a very good agreement. The comparison of genetic effects corresponding to various window lengths defined in bp emerged a systematic pattern: regardless of the length of the compared region, few significant differences were found for production traits, while many were observed for SCS. For each trait, the German population had much higher SNP variances than the Polish population and the genetic covariance estimates were all positive. Depending on traits' inheritance mode, the additive genetic variation can be stored in many genes following the infinitesimal model (like for SCS) or distributed between genes with high effects and the polygenic "background" (like for production traits). Accounting for those differences has implications on the prospective international genomic evaluation.