High genetic correlation for milk yield across Manech and Latxa dairy sheep from France and Spain.

TitleHigh genetic correlation for milk yield across Manech and Latxa dairy sheep from France and Spain.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsGarcía-Baccino, CA, Pineda-Quiroga, C, Astruc, JM, Ugarte, E, Legarra, A
JournalJDS Commun
Date Published2022 Jul

Spanish Latxa and French Manech are dairy sheep breeds that split into Blond (Latxa Cara Rubia, LCR; Manech Tête Rousse, MTR) and Black (Latxa Cara Negra of Navarre, LCN; Manech Tête Noire, MTN) strains. Exchange of genetic material (artificial insemination doses) is becoming more and more frequent across these breeds, within color, to boost both genomic precision using a larger reference population and genetic progress using a larger selection base. This exchange leads to some rams having descendance across both countries. However, additional gains can only be achieved if the selected traits are genetically similar across countries. The objective of this work was to estimate the genetic correlation across breeds for milk yield. We combine across-country, within-color records, pedigree, and marker information. The number of animals with records oscillates from 65,000 (LCN) to 544,000 (MTR), whereas the number of connecting artificial insemination rams (with more than 10 daughters in the other country) is 381 MTR rams in LCR and 58 MTN rams in LCN. Blond strains had a stronger and more extended-in-time connection. The number of genotyped rams goes from 328 (LCN) to 4,901 (MTR). The relatedness of populations was assessed by principal component analysis and F coefficients. The genetic correlation was estimated using 2 (one per color) 2-trait models (each country a trait), including all available data (records, pedigree and genotypes), by maximum profile likelihood while fixing other variance components to within-population estimates. Results showed a closer genetic relationship of Blond strains than of Black strains (F: 0.01 vs. 0.05, respectively). Genetic correlation estimates for milk yield were 0.70 in both cases. Based on F distances, we expected a lower correlation for Black strains than for Blond ones if dominance or epistasis are important. Thus, we attribute the value of this correlation not being close to 1 mostly to genotype-by-environment interaction, including on-farm management and trait modeling. Regardless, the correlation of 0.7 across populations is encouraging for future joint work of Latxa and Manech breeders, including joint genetic evaluations.

Alternate JournalJDS Commun
PubMed ID36338014
PubMed Central IDPMC9623675