Identification of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated with Economic Traits in Beef Cattle
The cost of feed remains an important factor affecting the profitability of beef production, and the difficulty of recording feed intake is a major limitation in an industry-wide selection program. Novel genomics approaches offer opportunities to select for efficient cattle. Therefore, the main objective of this work was to identify genetic markers responsible for genetic variation in feed efficiency traits as well as to understand the molecular basis of feed efficiency traits. The candidate gene approach revealed new single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Cholecystokinin B receptor (CCKBR) and pancreatic anionic trypsinogen (TRYP8) genes that showed strong evidence of association with feed efficiency traits. An in silico approach was proposed as a cost-effective method for SNP discovery. SNPs within genes Pyruvate carboxylase, ATPaseH+, UBQEI, UCP2, and PTI showed evidence of association with carcass traits without negatively affecting feed efficiency traits. The polymorphisms within genes CCKBR and TRYP8 were associated with pancreas mass and pancreatic exocrine secretion. A fine-mapping study on 1,879 SNPs revealed 807 SNPs with significant associations corresponding to 1,012 genes. These 807 SNPs represented a genomic heritability of 0.32 and 89% of the genetic variance of residual feed intake (RFI). Genomic breeding values estimated from the SNP set (807) were highly correlated (0.96) to the breeding values estimated from a mixed animal model. The 10 most influential SNPs were located in chromosomes 16, 17, 9, 11, 12, 20, 15, and 19. Enrichment analysis for the identified genes (1,012) suggested 110 biological processes and 141 pathways contributed to variation in RFI. The 339 newly identified SNPs corresponding to 180 genes identified by fine-mapping were tested for association with feed efficiency, growth, and carcass traits. Strong evidence of associations for RFI was located on chromosomes 8, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, and 28. Combing validated SNPs from fine-mapping and the candidate gene approach may help develop a DNA test panel for commercial use and increase our understanding of the biological basis of feed efficiency in beef cattle.