Increased inbreeding is an inevitable consequence of selection in livestock populations. The analysis of high-density single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) facilitates the identification of long and uninterrupted runs of homozygosity (ROH) that can be used to identify chromosomal regions that are identical by descent. In this work, the distribution of ROH of different lengths in five Italian cattle breeds is described. A total of 4095 bulls from five cattle breeds (2093 Italian Holstein, 749 Italian Brown, 364 Piedmontese, 410 Marchigiana and 479 Italian Simmental) were genotyped at 54K SNP loci. ROH were identified and used to estimate molecular inbreeding coefficients (FROH), which were compared with inbreeding coefficients estimated from pedigree information (FPED) and using the genomic relationship matrix (FGRM). The average number of ROH per animal ranged from 54 ± 7.2 in Piedmontese to 94.6 ± 11.6 in Italian Brown. The highest number of short ROH (related to ancient consanguinity) was found in Piedmontese, followed by Simmental. The Italian Brown and Holstein had a higher proportion of longer ROH distributed across the whole genome, revealing recent inbreeding. The FPED were moderately correlated with FROH > 1 Mb (0.662, 0.700 and 0.669 in Italian Brown, Italian Holstein and Italian Simmental respectively) but poorly correlated with FGRM (0.134, 0.128 and 0.448 for Italian Brown, Italian Holstein and Italian Simmental respectively). The inclusion of ROH > 8 Mb in the inbreeding calculation improved the correlation of FROH with FPED and FGRM. ROH are a direct measure of autozygosity at the DNA level and can overcome approximations and errors resulting from incomplete pedigree data. In populations with high linkage disequilibrium (LD) and recent inbreeding (e.g. Italian Holstein and Italian Brown), a medium-density marker panel, such as the one used here, may provide a good estimate of inbreeding. However, in populations with low LD and ancient inbreeding, marker density would have to be increased to identify short ROH that are identical by descent more precisely.
- cattle breeds