Phenotypic relationships, genetic parameters, genome-wide associations, and identification of potential candidate genes for ketosis and fat-to-protein ratio in German Holstein cows.


Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, 35390 Gießen, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


Energy demand for milk production in early lactation exceeds energy intake, especially in high-yielding Holstein cows. Energy deficiency causes increasing susceptibility to metabolic disorders. In addition to several blood parameters, the fat-to-protein ratio (FPR) is suggested as an indicator for ketosis, because a FPR >1.5 refers to high lipolysis. The aim of this study was to analyze phenotypic, quantitative genetic, and genomic associations between FPR and ketosis. In this regard, 8,912 first-lactation Holstein cows were phenotyped for ketosis according to a veterinarian diagnosis key. Ketosis was diagnosed if the cow showed an abnormal carbohydrate metabolism with increased content of ketone bodies in the blood or urine. At least one entry for ketosis in the first 6 wk after calving implied a score = 1 (diseased); otherwise, a score = 0 (healthy) was assigned. The FPR from the first test-day was defined as a Gaussian distributed trait (FPRgauss), and also as a binary response trait (FPRbin), considering a threshold of FPR = 1.5. After imputation and quality controls, 45,613 SNP markers from the 8,912 genotyped cows were used for genomic studies. Phenotypically, an increasing ketosis incidence was associated with significantly higher FPR, and vice versa. Hence, from a practical trait recording perspective, first test-day FPR is suggested as an indicator for ketosis. The ketosis heritability was slightly larger when modeling the pedigree-based relationship matrix (pedigree-based: 0.17; SNP-based: 0.11). For FPRbin, heritabilities were larger when modeling the genomic relationship matrix (pedigree-based: 0.09; SNP-based: 0.15). For FPRgauss, heritabilities were almost identical for both pedigree and genomic relationship matrices (pedigree-based: 0.14; SNP-based: 0.15). Genetic correlations between ketosis with FPRbin and FPRgauss using either pedigree- or genomic-based relationship matrices were in a moderate range from 0.39 to 0.71. Applying genome-wide association studies, we identified the specific SNP rs109896020 (BTA 5, position: 115,456,438 bp) significantly contributing to ketosis. The identified potential candidate gene PARVB in close chromosomal distance is associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in humans. The most important SNP contributing to FPRbin was located within the DGAT1 gene. Different SNP significantly contributed to ketosis and FPRbin, indicating different mechanisms for both traits genomically.


fat-to-protein ratio,genetic parameter,genome-wide association,ketosis,potential candidate gene,