Integrating genomic and infrared spectral data improves the prediction of milk protein composition in dairy cattle

Toshimi Baba, Sara Pegolo, Lucio F.M. Mota, Francisco Peñagaricano, Giovanni Bittante, Alessio Cecchinato, Gota Morota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Over the past decade, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy has been used to predict novel milk protein phenotypes. Genomic data might help predict these phenotypes when integrated with milk FTIR spectra. The objective of this study was to investigate prediction accuracy for milk protein phenotypes when heterogeneous on-farm, genomic, and pedigree data were integrated with the spectra. To this end, we used the records of 966 Italian Brown Swiss cows with milk FTIR spectra, on-farm information, medium-density genetic markers, and pedigree data. True and total whey protein, and five casein, and two whey protein traits were analyzed. Multiple kernel learning constructed from spectral and genomic (pedigree) relationship matrices and multilayer BayesB assigning separate priors for FTIR and markers were benchmarked against a baseline partial least squares (PLS) regression. Seven combinations of covariates were considered, and their predictive abilities were evaluated by repeated random sub-sampling and herd cross-validations (CV). Results: Addition of the on-farm effects such as herd, days in milk, and parity to spectral data improved predictions as compared to those obtained using the spectra alone. Integrating genomics and/or the top three markers with a large effect further enhanced the predictions. Pedigree data also improved prediction, but to a lesser extent than genomic data. Multiple kernel learning and multilayer BayesB increased predictive performance, whereas PLS did not. Overall, multilayer BayesB provided better predictions than multiple kernel learning, and lower prediction performance was observed in herd CV compared to repeated random sub-sampling CV. Conclusions: Integration of genomic information with milk FTIR spectral can enhance milk protein trait predictions by 25% and 7% on average for repeated random sub-sampling and herd CV, respectively. Multiple kernel learning and multilayer BayesB outperformed PLS when used to integrate heterogeneous data for phenotypic predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Integrating genomic and infrared spectral data improves the prediction of milk protein composition in dairy cattle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this