Genome-wide association study for stayability at different calvings in Nellore beef cattle

Diogo Osmar Silva, Gerardo Alves Fernandes, Larissa Fernanda Simielli Fonseca, Lúcio Flávio Macedo Mota, Tiago Bresolin, Roberto Carvalheiro, Lucia Galvão Albuquerque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Backgrounding: Stayability, which may be defined as the probability of a cow remaining in the herd until a reference age or at a specific number of calvings, is usually measured late in the animal’s life. Thus, if used as selection criteria, it will increase the generation interval and consequently might decrease the annual genetic gain. Measuring stayability at an earlier age could be a reasonable strategy to avoid this problem. In this sense, a better understanding of the genetic architecture of this trait at different ages and/or at different calvings is important. This study was conducted to identify possible regions with major effects on stayability measured considering different numbers of calvings in Nellore cattle as well as pathways that can be involved in its expression throughout the female’s productive life. Results: The top 10 most important SNP windows explained, on average, 17.60% of the genetic additive variance for stayability, varying between 13.70% (at the eighth calving) and 21% (at the fifth calving). These SNP windows were located on 17 chromosomes (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 27, and 28), and they harbored a total of 176 annotated genes. The functional analyses of these genes, in general, indicate that the expression of stayability from the second to the sixth calving is mainly affected by genetic factors related to reproductive performance, and nervous and immune systems. At the seventh and eighth calvings, genes and pathways related to animal health, such as density bone and cancer, might be more relevant. Conclusion: Our results indicate that part of the target genomic regions in selecting for stayability at earlier ages (from the 2th to the 6th calving) would be different than selecting for this trait at later ages (7th and 8th calvings). While the expression of stayability at earlier ages appeared to be more influenced by genetic factors linked to reproductive performance together with an overall health/immunity, at later ages genetic factors related to an overall animal health gain relevance. These results support that selecting for stayability at earlier ages (perhaps at the second calving) could be applied, having practical implications in breeding programs since it could drastically reduce the generation interval, accelerating the genetic progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number93
JournalBMC genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Reproductive trait
  • Single-step
  • Zebu breed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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