Epistatic interactions associated with fatty acid concentrations of beef from angus sired beef cattle

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Kramer, L.M., Ghaffar, M.A.A., Koltes, J.E. et al. Epistatic interactions associated with fatty acid concentrations of beef from angus sired beef cattle. BMC Genomics 17, 891 (2016).


Consumers are becoming increasingly conscientious about the nutritional value of their food. Consumption of some fatty acids has been associated with human health traits such as blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is important to investigate genetic variation in content of fatty acids present in meat. Previously publications reported regions of the cattle genome that are additively associated with variation in fatty acid content. This study evaluated epistatic interactions, which could account for additional genetic variation in fatty acid content. Epistatic interactions for 44 fatty acid traits in a population of Angus beef cattle were evaluated with EpiSNPmpi. False discovery rate (FDR) was controlled at 5 % and was limited to well-represented genotypic combinations. Epistatic interactions were detected for 37 triacylglyceride (TAG), 36 phospholipid (PL) fatty acid traits, and three weight traits. A total of 6,181, 7,168, and 0 significant epistatic interactions (FDR < 0.05, 50-animals per genotype combination) were associated with Triacylglyceride fatty acids, Phospholipid fatty acids, and weight traits respectively and most were additive-by-additive interactions. A large number of interactions occurred in potential regions of regulatory control along the chromosomes where genes related to fatty acid metabolism reside. Many fatty acids were associated with epistatic interactions. Despite a large number of significant interactions, there are a limited number of genomic locations that harbored these interactions. While larger population sizes are needed to accurately validate and quantify these epistatic interactions, the current findings point towards additional genetic variance that can be accounted for within these fatty acid traits.