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The extent of linkage disequilibrium in a large cattle population of western Africa and its consequences for association studies

Thevenon S., Dayo G.K., Sylla S., Sidibé I., Berthier D., Legros H., Boichard D., Eggen A., Gautier M.. 2007. Animal Genetics, 38 (3) : p. 277-286.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2007.01601.x

Several previous studies concluded that linkage disequilibrium (LD) in livestock populations from developed countries originated from the impact of strong selection. Here, we assessed the extent of LD in a cattle population from western Africa that was bred in an extensive farming system. The analyses were performed on 363 individuals in a Bos indicus x Bos taurus population using 42 microsatellite markers on BTA04, BTA07 and BTA13. A high level of expected heterozygosity (0.71), a high mean number of alleles per locus (9.7) and a mild shift in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were found. Linkage disequilibrium extended over shorter distances than what has been observed in cattle from developed countries. Effective population size was assessed using two methods; both methods produced large values: 1388 when considering heterozygosity (assuming a mutation rate of 10-3) and 2344 when considering LD on whole linkage groups (assuming a constant population size over generations). However, analysing the decay of LD as a function of marker spacing indicated a decreasing trend in effective population size over generations. This decrease could be explained by increasing selective pressure and/or by an admixture process. Finally, LD extended over small distances, which suggested that whole-genome scans will require a large number of markers. However, association studies using such populations will be effective.
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