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Title: Ex situ conservation of Holstein-Friesian cattle: Comparing the Dutch, French and USA germplasm collections

item DANCHIN-BURGE, C - Institut National De La Recherche Agronomique (INRA)
item HIEMSTRA, S - University Of Wageningen
item Blackburn, Harvey

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/21/2011
Publication Date: 8/1/2011
Citation: Danchin-Burge, C., Hiemstra, S.J., Blackburn, H.D. 2011. Ex situ conservation of Holstein-Friesian cattle: Comparing the Dutch, French and USA germplasm collections. Journal of Dairy Science. 94:4100-4108.

Interpretive Summary: Numerically and financially the Holstein-Friesian is a globally important dairy cattle breed. Despite its importance there has been a contraction in the breed’s genetic diversity. Gene banks afford the livestock industry an opportunity to preserve genetic diversity for future use. To this end France, the Netherlands, and the United States have established national gene banks for the preservation of livestock genetic resources. All three gene banks have collections of Holstein-Friesian germplasm. It was decided to compare the genetic diversity of these collections to one another and the in-situ population of Holstein-Friesian within the collections respective country. This evaluation was accomplished by using the pedigree information routinely kept by breed associations and Interbull. The results revealed that the French and Dutch collections were similar in terms of genetic diversity. In addition, they were similar to the in-situ populations within their respective countries. The collection maintained by the United States was shown to be more genetically diverse than either the French or Dutch collections and contained more genetic diversity than the in-situ population, as measured by effective number of founders (784 and 115 head for the collection and in-situ population, respectively). In conclusion the results suggest that all three countries have captured substantial proportions of Holstein-Friesian genetic diversity and therefore the collections are poised to contribute genetic diversity to the in-situ population if needed. Furthermore, the collections may be viewed as mutually supportive in managing a global resource for the conservation of this breed.

Technical Abstract: Holstein-Friesian (HF) gene bank collections were established in France, the Netherlands and USA in order to conserve genetic diversity for this breed. Genetic diversity of HF collections within and between countries was assessed and compared with active HF bulls in each country by using pedigree data. Measures of genetic diversity such as probability of gene origin inbreeding and kinship were calculated. While the effective number of founders for the active bull population was approximately equal for the three countries (105 to 115 head) and the French and Dutch gene banks, the USA had a substantially larger effective number of founders (784 head) in the collection. This and other measures of genetic diversity suggested that the cryobanks have captured substantial amounts of genetic diversity for the HF when compared to the current populations. A substantial part of the USA, French and Dutch collections seems to be genetically similar. However, the USA collection represents an interesting reservoir of HF genes of the past. The results obtained clearly demonstrate that gene banks can effectively acquire and conserve livestock breeds and further support the livestock industry when needed. Key words: gene bank, genetic diversity, Holstein-Friesian.