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Research Project: Improving Genetic Predictions in Dairy Animals Using Phenotypic and Genomic Information

Location: Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory

Title: Systems Biology in Animal Breeding: Identifying relationships among markers, genes, and phenotypes

item Cole, John
item Lewis, R
item Maltecca, C
item Newman, S
item Olson, K
item Tait, R. J. R.

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2012
Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Publication URL:
Citation: Cole, J.B., Lewis, R.M., Maltecca, C., Newman, S., Olson, K.M., Tait, R. 2013. Systems Biology in Animal Breeding: Identifying relationships among markers, genes, and phenotypes. Journal of Animal Science. 91(2):521-522.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Breeding and Genetics Symposium titled “Systems Biology in Animal Breeding: Identifying relationships among markers, genes, and phenotypes” was held at the Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science in Phoenix, AZ, July 15 to 19, 2012. The goals of the symposium were to demonstrate the use of high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes to determine the complex regulatory relationships among genotypes and phenotypes, as well as present methods to study complex relationships among phenotypes. Case studies from mammalian and avian species were included to emphasize the broad applicability of these methods. Modern systems biology attempts to explain how variations in DNA markers relate to phenotypes through transcription, protein, and regulatory networks. Systems biology is a rapidly growing field of study, and many animal breeders do not have experience working in this area, but resources for such work are rapidly becoming available. There are now high-density SNP genotypes available for hundreds-of-thousands of phenotyped dairy cattle in the National Dairy Database (NDDB) maintained by the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (Beltsville, MD, USA), and several multi-institutional projects are genotyping and phenotyping animals for novel traits such as efficiency. In addition, a number of competitive grants recently awarded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants program include one or more objectives that incorporate systems biology approaches. There is substantial evidence that there are only a small number of QTL in the cattle genome that explain large proportions of additive genetic variance for important phenotypes, and recent papers have shown that gene network analysis can provide powerful insight into the genetic architecture underlying complex phenotypes.