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Mafra Fortuna, Gabriela, 2021. Evaluation of the impact of mitochondrial variation in the estimation of breeding values for dairy cattle. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Breeding and Genetics



Mitochondria are independent cellular components responsible for cellular respiration. Through
oxidative phosphorylation they convert Adenosine diphosphate and inorganic phosphate into
Adenosine Triphosphate, ATP, the essential molecule sourced by all intracellular metabolic
processes. As a cytoplasmic component, mitochondria are transferred to offspring in a uniparental
fashion. The combination of evolutionary events generated a compact, haploid, non-recombining
and significantly conserved mitochondrial genome across mammalian species. In cattle for instance,
it is composed by around 16 kbp presented in a circular double-strand molecule that encodes for 22
tRNAs, 2 rRNAs and 13 protein-coding genes linked to energy production. It also presents a
regulatory non-coding region known as D-loop. For a while, mitochondrial genetic variation was
considered under neutral equilibrium. However, an increasing number of studies are connecting
mitochondrial polymorphisms to variability in phenotypical expression in many species.
Nonetheless, mitochondrial DNA has been recurrently identified as source of phenotypic variation
for production traits in dairy cattle. Reports indicate that up to 5% of the phenotypic variation for
such traits is regarded to the mitogenome. The real impact of the mentioned findings on breeding
practices are yet unknown. Reflecting that 5% is a significant share on phenotypic variation,
especially when comparing the length of nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, this project was
performed on an attempt to clarify whether mitochondrial effect should be accounted for in the
estimation of breeding values for dairy cattle. Considering that the genetic merit is the sum of nuclear
and cytoplasmic components, a dairy cattle breeding scheme selecting for one polygenic trait with
multiple observations was simulated. Using the R package “AlphaSimR” both nuclear and
mitochondrial genomes were obtained from a coalescent simulation and used to simulate breeding
activities. Breeding values were estimated under four scenarios: (1) standard repeatability model
based on progeny testing; (2) a repeatability model including mitochondrial effect as random effect
and based on progeny testing; (3) standard single-step GBLUP (ssGBLUP); and (4) ssGBLUP
including mitochondrial effect. Two scenarios were also tested regarding the number of causative
loci in the mitochondrial DNA: (1) all segregating sites were causal; (2) only one segregating site
was causal. The project highlighted discrepancies between published data and simulated inferences
of mitochondrial diversity, indicating that further investigation of the population genetics of the
mitochondria is necessary. Results indicate an advantage of accounting for mitochondrial effect on
the estimation of breeding values for female dairy cattle, although no impact on genetic gain was
observed. Including mitochondrial effect in breeding value estimations may be most beneficial for
the selection of females to be used for in-vitro fertilization or embryo-transfer techniques.

Main title:Evaluation of the impact of mitochondrial variation in the estimation of breeding values for dairy cattle
Authors:Mafra Fortuna, Gabriela
Supervisor:Johnsson, Martin and Zumbach, Birgit Jutta and Gorjanc, Gregor
Examiner:Eriksson, Susanne
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2021
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:Other
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Keywords:mitogenome, variance components, milk yield, simulation
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Animal husbandry
Animal genetics and breeding
Deposited On:15 Jun 2021 06:22
Metadata Last Modified:16 Jun 2021 01:01

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