Open Access Research article

Haplotypes that include the integrin alpha 11 gene are associated with tick burden in cattle

Laercio R Porto Neto123, Rowan J Bunch12, Blair E Harrison12, Kishore C Prayaga12 and William Barendse12*

Author Affiliations

1 Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia

2 CSIRO Livestock Industries, Queensland Bioscience Precinct, 306 Carmody Road, St. Lucia, QLD 4067, Australia

3 The University of Queensland, School of Animal Studies, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia

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BMC Genetics 2010, 11:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-11-55

Published: 21 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Infestations on cattle by the ectoparasite Boophilus (Rhipicephalus) microplus (cattle tick) impact negatively on animal production systems. Host resistance to tick infestation has a low to moderate heritability in the range 0.13 - 0.64 in Australia. Previous studies identified a QTL on bovine chromosome 10 (BTA10) linked to tick burden in cattle.

Results

To confirm these associations, we collected genotypes of 17 SNP from BTA10, including three obtained by sequencing part of the ITGA11 (Integrin alpha 11) gene. Initially, we genotyped 1,055 dairy cattle for the 17 SNP, and then genotyped 557 Brahman and 216 Tropical Composite beef cattle for 11 of the 17 SNP. In total, 7 of the SNP were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with tick burden tested in any of the samples. One SNP, ss161109814, was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with tick burden in both the taurine and the Brahman sample, but the favourable allele was different. Haplotypes for three and for 10 SNP were more significantly (P < 0.001) associated with tick burden than SNP analysed individually. Some of the common haplotypes with the largest sample sizes explained between 1.3% and 1.5% of the residual variance in tick burden.

Conclusions

These analyses confirm the location of a QTL affecting tick burden on BTA10 and position it close to the ITGA11 gene. The presence of a significant association in such widely divergent animals suggests that further SNP discovery in this region to detect causal mutations would be warranted.