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Genetic link to TB resistance in cattle

M. L. Bermingham, S. C. Bishop, J. A. Woolliams and others

BOVINE TB causes substantial economic losses in the UK and is a serious animal health concern. Despite over half a century of compulsory skin testing and slaughter of infected animals, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have not attained bovine TB-free status. It has been suggested that, to combat the disease, cattle could be selectively bred to be resistant to infection with Mycobacterium bovis. This study aimed to explore the genetic basis of bovine TB resistance by conducting a genome-wide association study.

Blood samples from 629 tuberculin-positive cattle in Northern Ireland were sampled at slaughter between August 2008 and June 2009. A total of 594 TB-negative control cattle were identified from the herds from which cases were sampled. Cases and controls were matched so that they had similar epidemiological and environmental backgrounds and the controls were likely to have been exposed to bovine TB. DNA from the cattle was extracted and genotyped.

Genetic analysis identified two sets of mutations that were more prevalent in the control animals than …

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