Scrotal circumference (SC) is one of the most important reproductive parameters in bulls, which is related to the quanti-qualitative character of semen and is indicative of fertility and the onset of puberty. Thus, genetic studies of this trait may contribute to the understanding of complex aspects of reproductive physiology, shedding light to old questions in this field. Recently, with the sequencing and mapping of the first reference bovine genome, studies focused on the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have paved the way for the development of powerful tools to characterize genetic profile throughout the genome, the SNP chips. This technology enables the simultaneous interrogation of up to 800,000 points distributed along all cattle chromosomes, which can be analyzed for associations with phenotypes of interest (Genome-wide Association Study - GWAS). This type of study generates knowledge about genes and chromosomal fragments linked to important traits, which are then exploited in systems biology. The proposed project aims at the application of GWAS to the SC phenotype, using Nellore cattle as a model, in order to identify chromosomal regions that may be related to important aspects of bovine reproduction.
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