• 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.
    • Genetic selection for bovine chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with divergent somatic cell score affects postpartum reproductive and metabolic performance.

      Meyerholz, M M; Rohmeier, L; Eickhoff, T; Hülsebusch, A; Jander, S; Linden, M; Macias, L; Koy, M; Heimes, A; Gorríz-Martín, L; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-11-01)
      The susceptibility of animals to periparturient diseases has a great effect on the economic efficiency of dairy industries, on the frequency of antibiotic treatment, and on animal welfare. The use of selection for breeding cows with reduced susceptibility to diseases offers a sustainable tool to improve dairy cattle farming. Several studies have focused on the association of distinct bovine chromosome 18 genotypes or haplotypes with performance traits. The aim of this study was to test whether selection of Holstein Friesian heifers via SNP genotyping for alternative paternal chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with favorable (Q) or unfavorable (q) somatic cell scores influences postpartum reproductive and metabolic diseases. Thirty-six heifers (18 Q and 18 q) were monitored from 3 wk before calving until necropsy on d 39 (± 4 d) after calving. Health status and rectal temperature were measured daily, and body condition score and body weight were assessed once per week. Blood samples were drawn twice weekly, and levels of insulin, nonesterified fatty acids, insulin-like growth factor-I, growth hormone, and β-hydroxybutyrate were measured. Comparisons between the groups were performed using Fisher's exact test, chi-squared test, and the GLIMMIX procedure in SAS. Results showed that Q-heifers had reduced incidence of metritis compared with q-heifers and were less likely to develop fever. Serum concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate were lower and insulin-like growth factor-I plasma concentrations were higher in Q- compared with q-heifers. However, the body condition score and withers height were comparable between haplotypes, but weight loss tended to be lower in Q-heifers compared with q-heifers. No differences between the groups were detected concerning retained fetal membranes, uterine involution, or onset of cyclicity. In conclusion, selection of chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with a reduced somatic cell score resulted in a decreased incidence of postpartum reproductive and metabolic diseases in this study. The presented data add to the existing knowledge aimed at avoiding negative consequences of genetic selection strategies in dairy cattle farming. The underlying causal mechanisms modulated by haplotypes in the targeted genomic region and immune competence necessitate further investigation.
    • In vivo model to study the impact of genetic variation on clinical outcome of mastitis in uniparous dairy cows.

      Rohmeier, L; Petzl, W; Koy, M; Eickhoff, T; Hülsebusch, A; Jander, S; Macias, L; Heimes, A; Engelmann, S; Hoedemaker, M; et al. (BioMed Central (BMC), 2020-01-31)
      BACKGROUND: In dairy herds, mastitis causes detrimental economic losses. Genetic selection offers a sustainable tool to select animals with reduced susceptibility towards postpartum diseases. Studying underlying mechanisms is important to assess the physiological processes that cause differences between selected haplotypes. Therefore, the objective of this study was to establish an in vivo infection model to study the impact of selecting for alternative paternal haplotypes in a particular genomic region on cattle chromosome 18 for mastitis susceptibility under defined conditions in uniparous dairy cows. RESULTS: At the start of pathogen challenge, no significant differences between the favorable (Q) and unfavorable (q) haplotypes were detected. Intramammary infection (IMI) with Staphylococcus aureus 1027 (S. aureus, n = 24, 96 h) or Escherichia coli 1303 (E. coli, n = 12, 24 h) was successfully induced in all uniparous cows. This finding was confirmed by clinical signs of mastitis and repeated recovery of the respective pathogen from milk samples of challenged quarters in each animal. After S. aureus challenge, Q-uniparous cows showed lower somatic cell counts 24 h and 36 h after challenge (P < 0.05), lower bacterial shedding in milk 12 h after challenge (P < 0.01) and a minor decrease in total milk yield 12 h and 24 h after challenge (P < 0.01) compared to q-uniparous cows. CONCLUSION: An in vivo infection model to study the impact of genetic selection for mastitis susceptibility under defined conditions in uniparous dairy cows was successfully established and revealed significant differences between the two genetically selected haplotype groups. This result might explain their differences in susceptibility towards IMI. These clinical findings form the basis for further in-depth molecular analysis to clarify the underlying genetic mechanisms for mastitis resistance.