Genome-based improvement of bovine milk fat composition

Norwegian Research Counsil - MAT-SLF

Grant Agreement number: 225173
Period covered - start date: 01.07.2013
Period covered - end date: 31.12.2016
Project's coordinator: Sigbjørn Lien
Principal researchers: Valeria Tafintseva, Achim Kohler


Western consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and demanding about the food they eat. Current consumer preferences include a focus on the health promoting effects of food and the increasing popularity of “low-carb diets”. Together, these trends are changing the consumption of milk products and creating a demand for raw material with higher milkfat content and a healthy fattyacid composition. Both fat content and milk fat composition are highly heritable traits that can be changed over time using selective breeding. Unfortunately traditional breeding is a relatively slow strategy with changes only emerging in the long term. The emergence of genomic selection, however, provides new opportunities for faster and more precise genetic selection. This application proposes the use of new technologies that collectively represent a genomic approach to improve both fat content and milk fatty-acid composition. Whole genome sequencing, genomic imputation, high-throughput genotyping, construction of low-density highly-informative genotyping arrays, genomic selection, and functional genomic tools are techniques that can be used to produce rapid genetic improvement, while preserving genetic diversity, maintaining oversight over correlated traits, and help to develop a functional understanding of the underlying biology. The project is expected to introduce large improvements in raw material of cow’s milk that are demanded by producers and processors. Further benefits will arise from the discovery of functional (and patentable) mutations, exploitation of unique properties of Norwegian genetic material, and improved understanding of the biological systems underpinning particular traits.



Knutsen T.M., Olsen H.G., Ketto I.A., Sundsaasen K.K, Kohler A., Tafintseva V., Svendsen M., Kent M.P., Lien S. 
Genetic variants associated with two major bovine milk fatty acids offer opportunities to breed for altered milk fat composition.
Genetics Selection Evolution 54 (2022) 35

Knutsen T.M., Olsen H.G., Tafintseva V., Svendsen M., Kohler A., Kent M.P., Lien S.
Unravelling genetic variation underlying de novo-synthesis of bovine milk fatty acids.
Scientific reports 8 (2018) 2179

Olsen H.G., Knutsen T.M., Kohler A., Svendsen M., Gidskehaug L., Grove H., Nome T., Sodeland M., Sundsaasen K.K., Kent M.P., Martens H., Lien S.
Genome-wide association mapping for milk fat composition and fine mapping of a QTL for de novo synthesis of milk fatty acids on bovine chromosome 13.
Genetics Selection Evolution 49 (2017) 20

Published 23. May 2016 - 15:26 - Updated 4. October 2022 - 16:07