Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 34, Number 5, September-October 2003
Mastitis of dairy ruminants
Page(s) 671 - 688
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2003) 671-688
Vet. Res. 34 (2003) 671-688
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2003020

Genetics of resistance to mastitis in dairy cattle

Rachel Ruppa and Didier Boichardb

a  INRA, Station d'Amélioration Génétique des Animaux, BP 27, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France
b  INRA, Station de Génétique Quantitative et Appliquée, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France

(Received 31 January 2003, accepted 28 April 2003)

Genetic variability of mastitis resistance is well established in dairy cattle. Many studies focused on polygenic variation of the trait, by estimating heritabilities and genetic correlation among phenotypic traits related to mastitis such as somatic cell counts and clinical cases. The role of Major Histocompatibility Complex in the susceptibility or resistance to intrammamary infection is also well documented. Finally, development from molecular genome mapping led to accumulating information of quantitative trait loci (QTL) related to mastitis resistance and better understanding of the genetic determinism of the trait. From economic and genetic analyses, and according to welfare and food safety considerations and to breeders and consumer's concern, there is more and more evidence that mastitis should be included in breeding objective of dairy cattle breeds. Many countries have implemented selection for mastitis resistance based on linear decrease of somatic cell counts. Given biological questioning, potential unfavourable consequences for very low cell counts cows are regularly investigated. Improvement of selection accuracy for mastitis resistance is ongoing and includes: advances in modelling, optimal combination of mastitis related traits and associated predictors, such as udder morphology, definition of global breeding objective including production and functional traits, and inclusion of molecular information that is now available from QTL experiments.

Key words: mastitis / somatic cell count / genetic parameter / QTL / breeding program / dairy cattle

Correspondence and reprints: Antanas Sigitas Sileika

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003