The use of mid-infrared spectra to map genes affecting milk composition Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy analysis of milk samples to increase the power and precision of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for milk composition and to better distinguish linked quantitative trait loci (QTL). To achieve this goal, we analyzed phenotypic data of milk composition traits, related MIR spectra, and genotypic data comprising 626,777 SNP on 5,202 Holstein, Jersey, and crossbred cows. We performed a conventional GWAS on protein, lactose, fat, and fatty acid concentrations in milk, a GWAS on individual MIR wavenumbers, and a partial least squares regression (PLS), which is equivalent to a multi-trait GWAS, exploiting MIR data simultaneously to predict SNP genotypes. The PLS detected most of the QTL identified using single-trait GWAS, usually with a higher significance value, as well as previously undetected QTL for milk composition. Each QTL tends to have a different pattern of effects across the MIR spectrum and this explains the increased power. Because SNP tracking different QTL tend to have different patterns of effect, it was possible to distinguish closely linked QTL. Overall, the results of this study suggest that using MIR data through either GWAS or PLS analysis applied to genomic data can provide a powerful tool to distinguish milk composition QTL.


  • Benedet, A
  • Ho, PN
  • Xiang, R
  • Bolormaa, S
  • De Marchi, M
  • Goddard, ME
  • Pryce, Jennie E

publication date

  • 2019