Functional and population genetic features of copy number variations in two dairy cattle populations

Young Lim Lee*, Mirte Bosse, Erik Mullaart, Martien A.M. Groenen, Roel F. Veerkamp, Aniek C. Bouwman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Copy Number Variations (CNVs) are gain or loss of DNA segments that are known to play a role in shaping a wide range of phenotypes. In this study, we used two dairy cattle populations, Holstein Friesian and Jersey, to discover CNVs using the Illumina BovineHD Genotyping BeadChip aligned to the ARS-UCD1.2 assembly. The discovered CNVs were investigated for their functional impact and their population genetics features. Results: We discovered 14,272 autosomal CNVs, which were aggregated into 1755 CNV regions (CNVR) from 451 animals. These CNVRs together cover 2.8% of the bovine autosomes. The assessment of the functional impact of CNVRs showed that rare CNVRs (MAF < 0.01) are more likely to overlap with genes, than common CNVRs (MAF ≥ 0.05). The Population differentiation index (Fst) based on CNVRs revealed multiple highly diverged CNVRs between the two breeds. Some of these CNVRs overlapped with candidate genes such as MGAM and ADAMTS17 genes, which are related to starch digestion and body size, respectively. Lastly, linkage disequilibrium (LD) between CNVRs and BovineHD BeadChip SNPs was generally low, close to 0, although common deletions (MAF ≥ 0.05) showed slightly higher LD (r 2 = ~ 0.1 at 10 kb distance) than the rest. Nevertheless, this LD is still lower than SNP-SNP LD (r 2 = ~ 0.5 at 10 kb distance). Conclusions: Our analyses showed that CNVRs detected using BovineHD BeadChip arrays are likely to be functional. This finding indicates that CNVs can potentially disrupt the function of genes and thus might alter phenotypes. Also, the population differentiation index revealed two candidate genes, MGAM and ADAMTS17, which hint at adaptive evolution between the two populations. Lastly, low CNVR-SNP LD implies that genetic variation from CNVs might not be fully captured in routine animal genetic evaluation, which relies solely on SNP markers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020


  • Bos taurus
  • Copy number variations
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Population genetics

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