Animal and Aquacultural Sciences
Mapping of genes of importance to mastitis
Janne Karin Brodin
Mastitis infection is costly for the farmer and painful for the cow. A better understanding of the genetic factors that influence the occurrence of mastitis may improve farm economy and animal welfare alike
Photo: Janne Brodin
Mastitis is the most common disease in dairy cattle world-wide. Cows that are genetically geared towards high milk yield are also more prone to developing this disease.
In Norway, veterinary treatment of bovine mastitis has been registered for more than 20 years. Combined with the genetic information we have already, these registrations provide an important tool for the job of identifying areas of the bovine genome (the individual’s total DNA content) that influence resistance to mastitis.
In her thesis, which she defended on December 9th 2010, PhD student Marte Sodeland has worked to identify areas on four bovine chromosomes that appear to influence resistance to mastitis. Genes of importance to mastitis
According to Sodeland, the areas of chromosomes 2 and 6 are especially interesting, since they include genes that are important to early immune response to bacterial infection, and for recruiting immunological cells in the udder. Sodeland is now working on the effect of variation in and around these genes. The mapping is advancing rapidly
The work on full genome sequencing (the order of building blocks in the hereditary material) is progressing rapidly, and the costs relating to sequencing of an individual animal is also sinking fast. Gene testing and breeding programmes
If scientists can identify genetic variation that directly affects resistance, it will be possible to develop genetic tests which will identify animals with high or low risk of developing mastitis. The results of the gene tests can then be used in the breeding programmes.
It will probably not be very many years before scientists have a close to complete overview of the genetic variation in Norwegian Red Cattle. According to Sodeland, it will not take very long after that to identify the genetic variation that is important to economically important traits.
Updated: 27.04.11Printerfriendly version
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