A genomic study on mammary gland acclimatization to tropical environment in the Holstein cattle


This study aims at identifying mammary gland genes expressed in Brazilian Holstein cattle produced under tropical conditions, as compared to the Portuguese Holstein cattle produced in a temperate region. For this purpose, cDNA microarrays and real-time (RT) PCR transcriptomic techniques were utilized in 12 Holstein cows from the same lactating phase and management systems divided into two groups: Holstein Brazil (HB) originated from Brazil and Holstein Portugal (HP) from Portugal. The genomic results show that from a total of 4608 genes available from the microarray slide (Bovine Long Oligo (BLO) library), 65 transcripts were identified as differentially expressed in mammary glands. The genes associated with mammary gland development and heat stress responses showed greater expression in HB animals. In the HP group, upregulated genes related with apoptosis and vascular development and downregulated genes related with resistance to heat stress were observed. Validation of microarray results was done using RT-PCR. HB animals had higher blood levels of growth hormone than HP animals. Blood levels of prolactin and T3 were similar for both groups and GH levels were increased in the HB group. The results suggest a gene change towards long-term acclimatization of Brazilian Holstein cattle to cope with tropical heat stress conditions.

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We are grateful for the support of Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa and CENARGEM, EMBRAPA, Brazil.


This work was supported by the grant “SFRH/BD/48549/2008” from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, of CIISA (Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação em Sanidade Animal) and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon.

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Correspondence to L. A. Cardoso.

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Ethical approval for the sample collection from animals was granted by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Lisbon and by the Agriculture Ministry Ethical Committee (Portugal). Sampling of animals was carried out by trained veterinarians.

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Wetzel-Gastal, D., Feitor, F., van Harten, S. et al. A genomic study on mammary gland acclimatization to tropical environment in the Holstein cattle. Trop Anim Health Prod 50, 187–195 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-017-1420-7

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  • Heat stress acclimatization
  • Mammary gland