Background: This study aimed at identifying genomic regions that underlie genetic variation of worm egg count, as an indicator trait for parasite resistance in a large population of Australian sheep, which was genotyped with the high-density 600 K Ovine single nucleotide polymorphism array. This study included 7539 sheep from different locations across Australia that underwent a field challenge with mixed gastrointestinal parasite species. Faecal samples were collected and worm egg counts for three strongyle species, i.e. Teladorsagia circumcincta, Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus colubriformis were determined. Data were analysed using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and regional heritability mapping (RHM). Results: Both RHM and GWAS detected a region on Ovis aries (OAR) chromosome 2 that was highly significantly associated with parasite resistance at a genome-wise false discovery rate of 5%. RHM revealed additional significant regions on OAR6, 18, and 24. Pathway analysis revealed 13 genes within these significant regions (SH3RF1, HERC2, MAP3K, CYFIP1, PTPN1, BIN1, HERC3, HERC5, HERC6, IBSP, SPP1, ISG20, and DET1), which have various roles in innate and acquired immune response mechanisms, as well as cytokine signalling. Other genes involved in haemostasis regulation and mucosal defence were also detected, which are important for protection of sheep against invading parasites. Conclusions: This study identified significant genomic regions on OAR2, 6, 18, and 24 that are associated with parasite resistance in sheep. RHM was more powerful in detecting regions that affect parasite resistance than GWAS. Our results support the hypothesis that parasite resistance is a complex trait and is determined by a large number of genes with small effects, rather than by a few major genes with large effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology