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Single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with thermoregulation in lactating dairy cows exposed to heat stress

Dikmen, S., Wang, X.‐z., Ortega, M.S., Cole, J.B., Null, D.J., Hansen, P.J.
Journal of animal breeding and genetics 2015 v.132 no.6 pp. 409-419
Holstein, cooling, dairy cows, genes, genetic markers, genetic variation, genotype, heat stress, heat tolerance, lactation, milk yield, plant growth substances, reproduction, respiratory rate, single nucleotide polymorphism, stress tolerance, summer, sweating, temperature, thermoregulation
Dairy cows with increased rectal temperature experience lower milk yield and fertility. Rectal temperature during heat stress is heritable, so genetic selection for body temperature regulation could reduce effects of heat stress on production. One aim of the study was to validate the relationship between genotype and heat tolerance for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously associated with resistance to heat stress. A second aim was to identify new SNPs associated with heat stress resistance. Thermotolerance was assessed in lactating Holsteins during the summer by measuring rectal temperature (a direct measurement of body temperature regulation; n = 435), respiration rate (an indirect measurement of body temperature regulation, n = 450) and sweating rate (the major evaporative cooling mechanism in cattle, n = 455). The association between genotype and thermotolerance was evaluated for 19 SNPs previously associated with rectal temperature from a genomewide analysis study (GWAS), four SNPs previously associated with change in milk yield during heat stress from GWAS, 2 candidate gene SNPs previously associated with rectal temperature and respiration rate during heat stress (ATPA1A and HSP70A) and 66 SNPs in genes previously shown to be associated with reproduction, production or health traits in Holsteins. For SNPs previously associated with heat tolerance, regions of BTA4, BTA6 and BTA24 were associated with rectal temperature; regions of BTA6 and BTA24 were associated with respiration rate; and regions of BTA5, BTA26 and BTA29 were associated with sweating rate. New SNPs were identified for rectal temperature (n = 12), respiration rate (n = 8) and sweating rate (n = 3) from among those previously associated with production, reproduction or health traits. The SNP that explained the most variation were PGR and ASL for rectal temperature, ACAT2 and HSD17B7 for respiration rate, and ARL6IP1 and SERPINE2 for sweating rate. ARL6IP1 was associated with all three thermotolerance traits. In conclusion, specific genetic markers responsible for genetic variation in thermoregulation during heat stress in Holsteins were identified. These markers may prove useful in genetic selection for heat tolerance in Holstein cattle.