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The extent of linkage disequilibrium in beef cattle breeds using high-density SNP genotypes

Porto-Neto, Laercio R, Kijas, James W, Reverter, Antonio
Genetics, selection, evolution 2014 v.46 no.1 pp. 2608
X chromosome, beef cattle, cattle breeds, genetic markers, genotype, linkage disequilibrium, marker-assisted selection, population size, single nucleotide polymorphism
BACKGROUND: The extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) between molecular markers impacts genome-wide association studies and implementation of genomic selection. The availability of high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping platforms makes it possible to investigate LD at an unprecedented resolution. In this work, we characterised LD decay in breeds of beef cattle of taurine, indicine and composite origins and explored its variation across autosomes and the X chromosome. FINDINGS: In each breed, LD decayed rapidly and r² was less than 0.2 for marker pairs separated by 50 kb. The LD decay curves clustered into three groups of similar LD decay that distinguished the three main cattle types. At short distances between markers (< 10 kb), taurine breeds showed higher LD (r² = 0.45) than their indicine (r² = 0.25) and composite (r² = 0.32) counterparts. This higher LD in taurine breeds was attributed to a smaller effective population size and a stronger bottleneck during breed formation. Using all SNPs on only the X chromosome, the three cattle types could still be distinguished. However for taurine breeds, the LD decay on the X chromosome was much faster and the background level much lower than for indicine breeds and composite populations. When using only SNPs that were polymorphic in all breeds, the analysis of the X chromosome mimicked that of the autosomes. CONCLUSIONS: The pattern of LD mirrored some aspects of the history of breed populations and showed a sharp decay with increasing physical distance between markers. We conclude that the availability of the HD chip can be used to detect association signals that remained hidden when using lower density genotyping platforms, since LD dropped below 0.2 at distances of 50 kb.