• Characterization of functional traits with focus on udder health in heifers with divergent paternally inherited haplotypes on BTA18.

      Heimes, A; Brodhagen, J; Weikard, R; Hammon, H M; Meyerholz, M M; Petzl, W; Zerbe, H; Engelmann, S; Schmicke, M; Hoedemaker, M; et al. (BioMedCentral, 2019-07-11)
      BACKGROUND: A major challenge in modern medicine and animal husbandry is the issue of antimicrobial resistance. One approach to solving this potential medical hazard is the selection of farm animals with less susceptibility to infectious diseases. Recent advances in functional genome analysis and quantitative genetics have opened the horizon to apply genetic marker information for efficiently identifying animals with preferential predisposition regarding health traits. The current study characterizes functional traits with a focus on udder health in dairy heifers. The animals were selected for having inherited alternative paternal haplotypes for a genomic region on Bos taurus chromosome (BTA) 18 genetically associated with divergent susceptibility to longevity and animal health, particularly mastitis. RESULTS: In the first weeks of lactation, the q heifers which had inherited the unfavorable (q) paternal haplotype displayed a significantly higher number of udder quarters with very low somatic cell count (< 10,000 cells / ml) compared to their paternal half-sib sisters with the favorable (Q) paternal haplotype. This might result in impaired mammary gland sentinel function towards invading pathogens. Furthermore, across the course of the first lactation, there was indication that q half-sib heifers showed higher somatic cell counts, a surrogate trait for udder health, in whole milkings compared to their paternal half-sib sisters with the favorable (Q) paternal haplotype. Moreover, heifers with the haplotype Q had a higher feed intake and higher milk yield compared to those with the q haplotype. Results of this study indicate that differences in milk production and calculated energy balance per se are not the main drivers of the genetically determined differences between the BTA18 Q and q groups of heifers. CONCLUSIONS: The paternally inherited haplotype from a targeted BTA18 genomic region affect somatic cell count in udder quarters during the early postpartum period and might also contribute to further aspects of animal's health and performance traits due to indirect effects on feed intake and metabolism.
    • Cows selected for divergent mastitis susceptibility display a differential liver transcriptome profile after experimental Staphylococcus aureus mammary gland inoculation.

      Heimes, A; Brodhagen, J; Weikard, R; Becker, D; Meyerholz, M M; Petzl, W; Zerbe, H; Schuberth, H-J; Hoedemaker, M; Schmicke, M; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-04-16)
      Infection and inflammation of the mammary gland, and especially prevention of mastitis, are still major challenges for the dairy industry. Different approaches have been tried to reduce the incidence of mastitis. Genetic selection of cows with lower susceptibility to mastitis promises sustainable success in this regard. Bos taurus autosome (BTA) 18, particularly the region between 43 and 59 Mb, harbors quantitative trait loci (QTL) for somatic cell score, a surrogate trait for mastitis susceptibility. Scrutinizing the molecular bases hereof, we challenged udders from half-sib heifers having inherited either favorable paternal haplotypes for somatic cell score (Q) or unfavorable haplotypes (q) with the Staphylococcus aureus pathogen. RNA sequencing was used for an in-depth analysis of challenge- related alterations in the hepatic transcriptome. Liver exerts highly relevant immune functions aside from being the key metabolic organ. Hence, a holistic approach focusing on the liver enabled us to identify challenge-related and genotype-dependent differentially expressed genes and underlying regulatory networks. In response to the S. aureus challenge, we found that heifers with Q haplotypes displayed more activated immune genes and pathways after S. aureus challenge compared with their q half-sibs. Furthermore, we found a significant enrichment of differentially expressed loci in the genomic target region on BTA18, suggesting the existence of a regionally acting regulatory element with effects on a variety of genes in this region.