Lactation curve models for estimating gene effects over a timeline.


The effects of genes are commonly estimated using random regression models based on test-day data and only give a general gene effect. Alternatively, lactation curve models can be used to estimate biological and environmental effects, or to predict missing test-day data and perform breeding value estimation. This study combines lactation curve models and estimation of gene effects to represent gene effects in different stages of lactation. The lactation curve models used were based on the Wood, Wilmink, and Ali and Schaeffer models. A random regression test-day model was used to compare estimated gene effects with the results of commonly used models. The well-characterized DGAT1 gene with known effects on milk yield, milk fat, and milk protein production was chosen to test this new approach in a Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle population. The K232A polymorphism and the promoter VNTR (variable number of tandem repeats) of the DGAT1 gene were used. All lactation curve models predicted the production curves sufficiently. Nevertheless, for predicting genotype effects, the Wilmink curve indicated the closest fit to the data. This study shows that the characteristic gene effects for DGAT1 genotypes occur after lactation d 40, which might be explained by a link to other genes affecting metabolic traits. Furthermore, allele substitution effects of allele K of the K232A locus showed that the typical effect of low milk and protein yield is due mainly to a lower overall production level, whereas the higher fat and protein content is reached by increased production toward its peak and fat yield is increased because of a higher production after this peak. Predicting gene effects with production curves gives better insight into the timeline of gene effects. This can be used to form genetic groups, in addition to feeding groups, for managing livestock populations in a more effective way.

DOI: 10.3168/jds.2009-2932

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@article{Strucken2011LactationCM, title={Lactation curve models for estimating gene effects over a timeline.}, author={Eva M. Strucken and D. J. de Koning and Siham A. Rahmatalla and Gudrun A. Brockmann}, journal={Journal of dairy science}, year={2011}, volume={94 1}, pages={442-9} }