U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Pierce CF, Brown VR, Olsen SC, Boggiatto P, Pedersen K, Miller RS, Speidel SE and Smyser TJ (2020) Loci Associated With Antibody Response in Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) Infected With Brucella suis. Front. Vet. Sci. 7:554674.

doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.554674


US gov't work


Feral swine (Sus scrofa) are a destructive invasive species widespread throughout the United States that disrupt ecosystems, damage crops, and carry pathogens of concern for the health of domestic stock and humans including Brucella suis—the causative organism for swine brucellosis. In domestic swine, brucellosis results in reproductive failure due to abortions and infertility. Contact with infected feral swine poses spillover risks to domestic pigs as well as humans, companion animals, wildlife, and other livestock. Genetic factors influence the outcome of infectious diseases; therefore, genome wide association studies (GWAS) of differential immune responses among feral swine can provide an understanding of disease dynamics and inform management to prevent the spillover of brucellosis from feral swine to domestic pigs. We sought to identify loci associated with differential antibody responses among feral swine naturally infected with B. suis using a case-control GWAS. Tissue, serum, and genotype data (68,516 bi-allelic single nucleotide polymorphisms) collected from 47 feral swine were analyzed in this study. The 47 feral swine were culture positive for Brucella spp. Of these 47, 16 were antibody positive (cases) whereas 31 were antibody negative (controls). Single-locus GWAS were performed using efficient mixed-model association eXpedited (EMMAX) methodology with three genetic models: additive, dominant, and recessive. Eight loci associated with seroconversion were identified on chromosome 4, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 18. Subsequent bioinformatic analyses revealed nine putative candidate genes related to immune function, most notably phagocytosis and induction of an inflammatory response. Identified loci and putative candidate genes may play an important role in host immune responses to B. suis infection, characterized by a detectable bacterial presence yet a differential antibody response. Given that antibody tests are used to evaluate brucellosis infection in domestic pigs and for disease surveillance in invasive feral swine, additional studies are needed to fully understand the genetic component of the response to B. suis infection and to more effectively translate estimates of Brucella spp. antibody prevalence among feral swine to disease control management action.