MTT Agrifood Research Finland and the University of Liège, Belgium, have worked together successfully in locating a gene that regulates total yield and protein and fat content of milk. The scientists found a variation in the growth hormone receptor gene in the bovine chromosome 20. The variation in the receptor gene is associated with a major effect on milk yield and composition in Ayrshire, Holstein and Jersey cows.
Dr Johanna Vilkki of MTT says that developing associated markers for genes that affect milk traits is not highly prioritised in breeding since it is relatively easy to improve these traits by conventional selection.
The value of the finding is scientific. This is the second time that a clear quantified association has been demonstrated between a single gene and bovine milk production. The MTT group is currently fine-mapping the genes that affect cows’ susceptibility to mastitis. This is of interest to cattle breeders, since traits sensitive to environmental effects, such as disease resistance, are difficult to improve by conventional methods, and for economic and welfare reasons the eradication of mastitis is an important goal for dairy cattle breeders.
Johanna Vilkki | alfa
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