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Comparison of Canadian and international Angus cattle populations using gene variants and microsatellites



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Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms in six genes (LEP, IGF2, MC1R, PMCH, CAPN1, and CAST) which had been shown to affect traits of economic importance were used to compare the allele frequencies and diversity of a Canadian population of Angus cattle and an International population. Genetic diversity was also measured using 22 microsatellite markers that were assumed not to be affected by selection. The Canadian population consisted of 107 cows and 57 bulls, while the Canadian Angus Association’s International Embryo Program population consisted of 26 calves. Black and red animals were represented in each population. Although the bulls of the Canadian population represent Angus from 16-17 years ago, and the cows of the Canadian population represent Angus from 2006-2007, no difference was observed in either the set of microsatellite genotypes nor the SNP genotypes. A significant difference was found between the Canadian and International populations at CAST, with the Canadian population exhibiting a higher frequency of the favorable A allele than the International population. This allele is positively correlated with tenderness. No significant differences were found for the other genes. Both populations were in Hardy Weinburg equilibrium for all genes except MC1R, which affects coat color. Using microsatellites, the total genetic variability of the two Angus populations was measured, showing that 93% of total variability was attributed to differences within, and not between, populations. Randomly chosen cattle could also be assigned to the correct population 97% of the time, based on microsatellite genotypes, and 75% of the time based on SNP genotypes. Mean heterozygosity was 0.578 based on microsatellites and 0.332 based on SNPs. The proportion of genetic variability between the two populations was 3% based on microsatellites and 7% based on SNPs. It is possible this reflects the results of indirect selection differences in various countries. Finally, Nei’s genetic distance was measured between the Canadian and International populations. The Canadian and International populations had a pairwise genetic distance of 0.097. In comparison, the genetic distance of Canadian Angus was 0.135 to Blonde d’Aquitaine, 0.251 to Simmental, 0.258 to Gelbvieh, 0.281 to Limousin, 0.305 to Holstein, 0.334 to Belgian Blue, and 0.452 to Hereford based on microsatellite markers. The results of this study show that the Angus breed contains as much or more genetic diversity than other cattle breeds. Greatest genetic differences exist between individual animals, not between populations of cattle in Canada and other countries.



Population genetics, Beef cattle genetics



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Animal and Poultry Science


Animal and Poultry Science



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