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Genomic regions associated with bovine milk fatty acids in both summer and winter milk samples

Aniek C Bouwman*, Marleen HPW Visker, Johan AM van Arendonk and Henk Bovenhuis

Author Affiliations

Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, Wageningen, 6700 AH, The Netherlands

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BMC Genetics 2012, 13:93  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-13-93

Published: 29 October 2012



In this study we perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for bovine milk fatty acids from summer milk samples. This study replicates a previous study where we performed a GWAS for bovine milk fatty acids based on winter milk samples from the same population. Fatty acids from summer and winter milk are genetically similar traits and we therefore compare the regions detected in summer milk to the regions previously detected in winter milk GWAS to discover regions that explain genetic variation in both summer and winter milk.


The GWAS of summer milk samples resulted in 51 regions associated with one or more milk fatty acids. Results are in agreement with most associations that were previously detected in a GWAS of fatty acids from winter milk samples, including eight ‘new’ regions that were not considered in the individual studies. The high correlation between the –log10(P-values) and effects of SNPs that were found significant in both GWAS imply that the effects of the SNPs were similar on winter and summer milk fatty acids.


The GWAS of fatty acids based on summer milk samples was in agreement with most of the associations detected in the GWAS of fatty acids based on winter milk samples. Associations that were in agreement between both GWAS are more likely to be involved in fatty acid synthesis compared to regions detected in only one GWAS and are therefore worthwhile to pursue in fine-mapping studies.

Milk fatty acids; Dairy; Genome-wide association