Genome-wide association mapping for milk fat composition and fine mapping of a QTL for de novo synthesis of milk fatty acids on bovine chromosome 13
The aim of this study was to investigate the accuracy to predict detailed fatty acid (FA) composition of bovine milk by mid-infrared spectrometry, for a cattle population that partly differed in terms of country, breed and methodology used to measure actual FA composition compared with the calibration data set. Calibration equations for predicting FA composition using mid-infrared spectrometry were developed in the European project RobustMilk and based on 1236 milk samples from multiple cattle breeds from Ireland, Scotland and the Walloon Region of Belgium. The validation data set contained 190 milk samples from cows in the Netherlands across four breeds: Dutch Friesian, Meuse-Rhine-Yssel, Groningen White Headed (GWH) and Jersey (JER). The FA measurements were performed using gas-liquid partition chromatography (GC) as the gold standard. Some FAs and groups of FAs were not considered because of differences in definition, as the capillary column of the GC was not the same as used to develop the calibration equations. Differences in performance of the calibration equations between breeds were mainly found by evaluating the standard error of validation and the average prediction error. In general, for the GWH breed the smallest differences were found between predicted and reference GC values and least variation in prediction errors, whereas for JER the largest differences were found between predicted and reference GC values and most variation in prediction errors. For the individual FAs 4:0, 6:0, 8:0, 10:0, 12:0, 14:0 and 16:0 and the groups' saturated FAs, short-chain FAs and medium-chain FAs, predictions assessed for all breeds together were highly accurate (validation R 2 > 0.80) with limited bias. For the individual FAs cis-14:1, cis-16:1 and 18:0, the calibration equations were moderately accurate (R 2 in the range of 0.60 to 0.80) and for the individual FA 17:0 predictions were less accurate (R 2 < 0.60) with considerable bias. FA concentrations in the validation data set of our study were generally higher than those in the calibration data. This difference in the range of FA concentrations, mainly due to breed differences in our study, can cause lower accuracy. In conclusion, the RobustMilk calibration equations can be used to predict most FAs in milk from the four breeds in the Netherlands with only a minor loss of accuracy.