Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung

Hannover, Germany

Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung

Hannover, Germany
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The present study summarizes several papers on sperm quality in stallions and the state of the art in the search for genomic markers for stallion fertility and infertility. Systematic effects on semen quality traits were investigated in 381 stallions used for artificial insemination (AI) either at the Lower Saxon National Stud Celle or the North Rhine-West-phalian National Stud Warendorf. For these stallions representing 22 breeds, a total of 71,078 fresh semen reports of the years 2001 to 2014 were recorded. Sperm traits analysed were gel-free volume, sperm concentration, total number of sperm, progressive motility and total number of progressively motile sperm. Variance components among stallions within breeds were significant for all semen traits and accounted for 40-59% of the total variance. Heritabilities for semen traits ranged at h2 = 0.13 to 0.28. The correlations among estimated breeding values (EBVs) of semen traits and EBVs for the paternal component of the pregnancy rate per estrus cycle (EBV-PAT) in 100 German Warm-blood stallions were positive and highest for the total number of progressively motile sperm (r = 0.36). A genome-wide association study for de-regressed estimated breeding values (EBVs) of the semen traits in 139 German Warmblood stallions using the Illumina equine SNP50 Beadchip revealed 29 SNPs on 12 different chromosomes as genome-wide significantly associated with the different semen traits. For ten genomic regions we could retrieve candidate genes influencing stallion fertility. Whole genome sequencing data facilitate identification of variants with impact on stallion fertility. We screened whole sequencing data of eleven horses for 1194 male fertility related genes. Filter analysis for variants with high-impact on protein structure and absence of the homozygous mutant genotype gave a total of 19 genetic variants. Subsequent validation in 337 fertile stallions of 19 breeds resulted in ten mutations presumably associated with sub- or infertility in stallions. The splice-site disruption variant g.37455302G > A in NOTCH1 was significantly associated with EBV-PAT and the homozygous mutant genotype was shown as a strong indicator for stallion subfertility. In addition, further nine variants within CFTR, OVGP1, FBX043, TSSK6, PKD1, GHRL, FOXP1, TCP11, SPATA31E1 and NOTCH1 showed absence of the homozygous alternate genotype in fertile stallions and were considered as potential markers of stallion infertility. Estimates of heritabilities for the pregnancy rate per cycle in data from Hanoverians for the years 2008-2014 were moderate at h2 = 0.07-0.13 for the additive genetic paternal, maternal and direct effect. The results of our work in warmblood clearly showed that a positive selection response for stallion fertility may be expected and selection for genetic variants associated with sub- or infertility may significantly enhance genetic progress. © Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.


Breeding for high-yielding cows with a long productive life has high economic impact. Previous results of linkage studies with the objective to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) as well as candidate gene analyses will be reviewed for the length of productive life and functional longevity of dairy cow populations. Using linkage studies, QTL on 13 different bovine chromosomes for functional longevity and on 10 different bovine chromosomes for the length of productive life were reported. Only two QTL located on bovine chromosome 11 and 23 overlapped between length of productive life and functional longevity. GWAS revealed 22 significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the length of productive life and five significant SNPs for functional longevity. GWA studies did not show overlapping associated genomic regions among observed and functional longevity. Near to the associated genomic regions for the length of productive life on BTA14,18 and 20, selection signatures for milk performance were found. With the length of productive life significantly associated SNPs and candidate gene variants were mostly pleiotropic for milk performance traits and somatic cell scores whereas genetic variants for functional longevity were not associated with these traits. In contrast, with functional longevity significantly associated SNPs were associated with fertility, calving and body stature traits. In conclusion, observed length of productive life and functional longevity are different traits. Loci important for survival of cows are associated with functional longevity and loci influencing the observed length of productive life are associated with milk performance and udder health. © Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.


1. Missing phenotypic correlations between milk yield and disease incidence are no evidence of high levels of animal welfare. 2. Reliable statements on animal welfare require regular additional reviews of the animal component; appropriate computer programs are available (such as VCE, special SAS applications). 3. Many diseases entail a milk yield depression. The simple grouping of cows according to their current performance levels (regarding milk yield during lactation, for instance) may ultimately result in different groups showing various morbidity rates. Confounding may thus lead to false conclusions. 4. In milk production, the regular presence of genotype-environment correlations with respect to a certain characteristic (better genotypes get a better environment/ better feeding, for instance) requires special attention for instance where statistical analysis is concerned. 5. Very high milk yields require high quality herd management. As this cannot be regularly ensured for all herds, high yielding animals are not suitable for all environments.


Shortness of the lower jaw (brachygnathia inferior, underbite) is a common anomaly in sheep. In order to study the age-dependent development of brachygnathia inferior, data of 73 East Friesian milk sheep from a breeding experiment over six generations were analysed. Data were recorded in regular intervals of four weeks from birth up to an age of at least 25 weeks. Brachygnathia inferior was determined by the distance between the edge of the central incisor of the lower jaw and the anterior surrounding of the upper jaw (DIFF-UK) using a measuring tape. Four main types of brachygnathia inferior were distinguished using means, standard deviations and maximum values of the individual animals.The thresholds were a maximum and mean DIFF-UK of 0.5 cm and a standard deviation of 0.266 cm. A total of 14 sheep (main types 3 and 4) showed an obvious brachygnathia inferior with mean DIFF-UK larger than 0.5 cm whereof ten animals showed a large variation of DIFF-UK values (standard deviation > 0.226 cm). Mean DIFF-UK values of 59 sheep were smaller than 0.5 cm (main types 1 and 2). One of these 59 animals had during the first four weeks of life DIFF-UK values of 1 cm and than decreasing values reaching zero within the next nine months (main type 2). Five of the 58 animals with main type 1 had a perfect occlusion of jaws, all with DIFF-UK values at zero during the whole recording period. Parents with severe or mild brachygnathia inferior had severely affected progeny. Selection of sheep for breeding with a perfect occlusion of jaws decreases the risk to pass on the hereditary disposition for brachygnathia inferior. An early inspection of potential breeding animals is advisable to detect all cases of brachygnathia inferior even if the underbite decreases in the first year of life.


Black pied German Holstein cows actually achieve a mean age at culling of 5.4 years. In dairy farming length of productive life has a crucial impact on the economic outcome and thus, breeding for long living and highly performing cows seems to be essential for profitable livestock production systems. In this review, heritability estimates of the traits longevity, length of productive life, functional longevity and stayability will be discussed in the context along with the different statistical models employed. Her-itabilities for the length of productive life are at 0.04-0.14 and for functional longevity at 0.04-0.11 when all culling data were available. Survival analysis with Weibull distributions are employed for censored data or multitrait evaluations using each section of life as a separate trait. Overestimation of heritabilities could be observed when censored data were used. Length of productive life is genetically highly correlated with milk performance traits, while the functional longevity shows only small or negative genetic correlations with milk performance traits. Type and health traits only show small to moderate genetic correlations with length of productive life and functional longevity. Genetic progress for an increasing longevity may be smaller in comparison with milk performance due to the smaller heritabilities and the long time until data are available. Higher genetic progress may be facilitated through genomic evaluations of breeding values and the use of progeny with the opportunity of having completed at least five lactation numbers. © Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.


Brade W.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | Distl O.,Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung
Berichte uber Landwirtschaft | Year: 2015

Archaea are an important part of the ruminal microbiome. Although the methanogenic archaea make up only a small part of the microbial biomass in the rumen, they play an extremely important role in the whole rumen physiology. Their ability to utilize hydrogen (H2), reduces the inhibitory effect of H2 on the total microbial fermentation in the rumen. This review article summarizes the current knowledge of archaea in the rumen and describes possible approaches to further reduce the methane emissions of cattle. We are still far from being able to manipulate the ruminal microbiome selectively and on a large scale in practice. However, it remains a strategic objective.


Brade W.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | Distl O.,Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung
Berichte uber Landwirtschaft | Year: 2015

Ruminants depend on their microbiota to digest their feed. It is therefore very tempting to prove a link between the composition and quantity of various rumen bacteria and the physiological parameters of the host. The gene products (enzymes) of ruminal microorganisms take over tasks that are not anchored in the ruminant (host) genome such as the degradation of nutritional components (for example cellulose) that they are not capable of digesting by themselves. The development of new high-throughput methods in molecular biology is rapidly increasing the knowledge of the ruminal microbiome (the totality of microbial organisms in the rumen of a ruminant). One important conclusion is that the ruminal microbial ecosystem is connected directly to the rumen fermentation pattern. To sum up, it can be said that: feeding affects both the ruminal microbiome and the fermentation in the rumen, balanced energy and nitrogen supply are an important key to ensure high profitability and environmental impact in dairy or beef production. This paper will provide new insights into the structural and functional diversity of the ruminal microbiome as well as into the multilayered existing complex interactions (feeding-microbiome-host). However, we are now only beginning to explore the ruminal microbiota of our ruminants. One might assume that the associated research constitutes the deepest basic research, strictly limited to livestock production. But that is just not so! It may be expected that ruminal microbiome research, which has attracted the interest of biogas and biofuel producers for a long time, probably has many things in store for us. The coexistence of microbes with their ruminant hosts - The result of joint co-evolution over millions of years - should be a model for how we could solve, by systematically using microorganisms in specially built facilities, our energy problems and increasing our protein needs in the future. Therefore, this new research area has a high priority for the entire food and energy production based on biomass. The following second report focuses its analysis on the archaea.


Brade W.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | Distl O.,Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung
Berichte uber Landwirtschaft | Year: 2015

The rumen is a pre-gastric fermentation chamber and a very complex microbial ecosystem. It was formed over many millions of years as the result of the co-evolution of ruminants with numerous microorganisms. The success of this co-evolution has long aroused the attention of biotechnologists. For this reason, ruminal microbiota research is not limited to the specific objectives of animal nutrition research, but is increasingly part of total agricultural research, including bioenergy production. very high variety and diversity of microorganisms coexist in the rumen. They are well adapted to the prevailing anoxic conditions and to the redox potential of about - 300 to - 400 mV, a pH of about 6.3 to 6.5 and a constant temperature of about 39° C. The symbiosis between ruminants (hosts) and their microbiome is of mutual benefit. The host provides, for example, nutrients (cellulose and other plant polysaccharides) and ensures optimal living conditions for its ruminal microbiome. For the host, the microorganisms digest specific nutrients and provide proteins, amino acids, and essential vitamins. An extraordinarily high number of bacteria, unicellular eukaryotic protists and other community members are involved in this symbiosis in the rumen. The number of protozoa, mainly ciliates, is about 0.5 million per milliliter of rumen fluid. They live on bacteria, but can also ferment cellulose or starch. In contrast to bacteria, they are not vital to the host. Flagellates are another group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms in the rumen. Methanogenesis (as an energy-consuming process) is reinforced in faunated animals. A reduction in ruminal protozoan density (defaunation) is generally associated with a reduction in methane emissions per kilogram of feed dry matter intake. In addition, yeasts and other anaerobic fungi are present in lower density in the rumen. They are also involved in the degradation of hemicelluloses and other polymers or in the biological conversion of lignin. The understanding of the symbiotic relationships within the ruminal microbiome and between host and his ruminal microbiome is an important key to make milk and beef production more environmentally-friendly, while drawing also important conclusions about future biogas production.


Brade W.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | Distl O.,Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung
Berichte uber Landwirtschaft | Year: 2016

The intestinal microbiome represents the totality of the existing gut microorganisms. The manifold symbioses between monogastric animals (hosts) and intestinal microbiota, or between the numerous species of the intestinal microbial community, are mutually beneficial. For example, the hosts provide nutrients (cellulose, polysaccharides et cetera) and ensure the best possible living conditions for the intestinal microbiota. The microorganisms break down roughage (for the host) and also provide him with amino acids and essential vitamins. At the same time, the intestinal microbiome is involved in the development of the host-specific immune system. Where the development of special (intestinal) diseases - due to a dysfunction of the mucosa barrier (mucosal barrier) - is concerned, participation of various microbial species might equally play a significant role. Already short-term use of antibiotics demonstrably changes the biodiversity of the host's intestinal bacterial community. In addition, an increase in antibiotic resistance genes can be observed in the treated pigs and, interestingly, this also holds true for some resistance genes to some antibiotics that were not administered. A better understanding of the relationship between the intestinal microbiome and disease prevention might be provided by new strategies, specifically where the prevention of diseases is concerned, for example, through use of probiotics instead of antibiotics for the feeding of juveniles or fattening animals. There is an urgent need for further research for this reason.


Blum M.,Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung | Distl O.,Institute For Tierzucht Und Vererbungsforschung
Berliner und Munchener Tierarztliche Wochenschrift | Year: 2014

In the present study, breeding values for canine congenital sensorineural deafness, the presence of blue eyes and patches have been predicted using multivariate animal models to test the reliability of the breeding values for planned matings. The dataset consisted of 6669 German Dalmatian dogs born between 1988 and 2009. Data were provided by the Dalmatian kennel clubs which are members of the German Association for Dog Breeding and Husbandry (VDH). The hearing status for all dogs was evaluated using brainstem auditory evoked potentials. The reliability using the prediction error variance of breeding values and the realized reliability of the prediction of the phenotype of future progeny born in each one year between 2006 and 2009 were used as parameters to evaluate the goodness of prediction through breeding values. All animals from the previous birth years were used for prediction of the breeding values of the progeny in each of the up-coming birth years. The breeding values based on pedigree records achieved an average reliability of 0.19 for the future 1951 progeny. The predictive accuracy (R2) for the hearing status of single future progeny was at 1.3%. Combining breeding values for littermates increased the predictive accuracy to 3.5%. Corresponding values for maternal and paternal half-sib groups were at 3.2 and 7.3%. The use of breeding values for planned matings increases the phenotypic selection response over mass selection. The breeding values of sires may be used for planned matings because reliabilities and predictive accuracies for future paternal progeny groups were highest. © 2014 Schlütersche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG.

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