U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



J. Anim. Sci. 2016.94, doi:10.2527/jas2015-9887.


U. S. government work.


Fourteen percent of U.S. cattle slaughtered in 2011 had liver abscesses, resulting in reduced carcass weight, quality, and value. Liver abscesses can result from a common bacterial cause, Fusobacterium necrophorum, which inhabits rumen lesions caused by acidosis and subsequently escapes into the blood stream, is filtered by the liver, and causes abscesses in the liver. Our aim was to identify SNP associated with liver abscesses in beef cattle. We used lung samples as a DNA source because they have low economic value, they have abundant DNA, and we had unrestricted access to sample them. We collected 2,304 lung samples from a beef processing plant: 1,152 from animals with liver abscess and 1,152 from animals without liver abscess. Lung tissue from pairs of animals, 1 with abscesses and another without, were collected from near one another on the viscera table to ensure that pairs of phenotypically extreme animals came from the same lot. Within each phenotype (abscess or no abscess), cattle were pooled by slaughter sequence into 12 pools of 96 cattle for each phenotype for a total of 24 pools. The pools were constructed by equal volume of frozen lung tissue from each animal. The DNA needed to allelotype each pool was then extracted from pooled lung tissue and the BovineHD Bead Array (777,962 SNP) was run on all 24 pools. Total intensity (TI), an indicator of copy number variants, was the sum of intensities from red and green dyes. Pooling allele frequency (PAF) was red dye intensity divided TI. Total intensity and PAF were weighted by the inverse of their respective genomic covariance matrices computed over all SNP across the genome. A false discovery rate ≤ 5% was achieved for 15 SNP for PAF and 20 SNP for TI. Genes within 50 kbp from significant SNP were in diverse pathways including maintenance of pH homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract, maintain immune defenses in the liver, migration of leukocytes from the blood into infected tissues, transport of glutamine into the kidney in response to acidosis to facilitate production of bicarbonate to increase pH, aggregate platelets to liver injury to facilitate liver repair, and facilitate axon guidance. Evidence from the 35 detected SNP associations combined with evidence of polygenic variation indicate that there is adequate genetic variation in incidence rate of liver abscesses, which could be exploited to select sires for reduced susceptibility to subacute acidosis and associated liver abscess.