Pathogen-Specific Effects of Quantitative Trait Loci Affecting Clinical Mastitis and Somatic Cell Count in Danish Holstein Cattle

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The aim of this study was to investigate whether quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting the risk of clinical mastitis (CM) and QTL affecting somatic cell score (SCS) exhibit pathogen-specific effects on the incidence of mastitis. Bacteriological data on mastitis pathogens were used to investigate pathogen specificity of QTL affecting treatments of mastitis in first parity (CM1), second parity (CM2), and third parity (CM3), and QTL affecting SCS. The 5 most common mastitis pathogens in the Danish dairy population were analyzed: Streptococcus dysgalactiae, Escherichia coli, coagulase-negative staphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus uberis. Data were analyzed using 2 approaches: an independence test and a generalized linear mixed model. Three different data sets were used to investigate the effect of data sampling: all samples, only samples that were followed by antibiotic treatment, and samples from first-crop daughters only. The results showed with high certainty that 2 QTL affecting SCS exhibited pathogen specificity against Staph. aureus and E. coli, respectively. The latter result might be explained by a pleiotropic QTL that also affects CM2 and CM3. Less certain results were found for QTL affecting CM. A QTL affecting CM1 was found to be specific against Strep. dysgalactiae and Staph. aureus, a QTL affecting CM2 was found to be specific against E. coli, and finally a QTL affecting CM3 was found to be specific against Staph. aureus. None of the QTL analyzed was found to be specific against coagulase-negative staphylococci and Strep. uberis. Our results show that particular mastitis QTL are highly likely to exhibit pathogen-specificity. However, the results should be interpreted carefully because the results are sensitive to the sampling method and method of analysis. Field data were used in this study. These kind of data may be heavily biased because there is no standard procedure for collecting milk samples for bacteriological analysis in Denmark. Furthermore, using only the mean SCS from d 10 to 180 after parturition may lead to truncated effects of SCS-QTL when samples collected after d 180 are used. Additionally, repeated samples were used, which could boost the difference in incidence of pathogens between daughters of sires inheriting the positive and negative QTL allele, respectively. However, the magnitude of these effects in this study is unclear
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)2493-2500
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Research areas

  • quantitative trait loci, mastitis, somatic cell score, pathogen specificity

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