Beef cattle body temperature during climatic stress: A genome-wide association study

Jeremy T. Howard, Stephen D. Kachman, Warren M. Snelling, E. John Pollak, Daniel C. Ciobanu, Larry A. Kuehn, Matthew L. Spangler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Cattle are reared in diverse environments and collecting phenotypic body temperature (BT) measurements to characterize BT variation across diverse environments is difficult and expensive. To better understand the genetic basis of BT regulation, a genome-wide association study was conducted utilizing crossbred steers and heifers totaling 239 animals of unknown pedigree and breed fraction. During predicted extreme heat and cold stress events, hourly tympanic and vaginal BT devices were placed in steers and heifers, respectively. Individuals were genotyped with the BovineSNP50K_v2 assay and data analyzed using Bayesian models for area under the curve (AUC), a measure of BT over time, using hourly BT observations summed across 5-days (AUC summer 5-day (AUCS5D) and AUC winter 5-day (AUCW5D)). Posterior heritability estimates were moderate to high and were estimated to be 0.68 and 0.21 for AUCS5D and AUCW5D, respectively. Moderately positive correlations between direct genomic values for AUCS5D and AUCW5D (0.40) were found, although a small percentage of the top 5 % 1-Mb windows were in common. Different sets of genes were associated with BT during winter and summer, thus simultaneous selection for animals tolerant to both heat and cold appears possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1665-1672
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Beef cattle
  • Body temperature
  • Genome-wide association study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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