Many studies have proposed that rates of genetic gain in dairy cattle can be increased by direct selection on the individual quantitative loci responsible for the genetic variation in these traits, or selection on linked genetic markers. The development of DNA-level genetic markers has made detection of QTL nearly routine in all major livestock species. The studies that attempted to detect genes affecting quantitative traits can be divided into two categories: analysis of candidate genes, and genome scans based on within-family genetic linkage. To date, 12 patent cooperative treaty (PCT) and US patents have been registered for DNA sequences claimed to be associated with effects on economic traits in dairy cattle. All claim effects on milk production, but other traits are also included in some of the claims. Most of the sequences found by the candidate gene approach are of dubious validity, and have been repeated in only very few independent studies. The two missense mutations on chromosomes 6 and 14 affecting milk concentration derived from genome scans are more solidly based, but the claims are also disputed. A few PCT in dairy cattle are commercialized as genetic tests where commercial dairy farmers are the target market.
Keywords: Quantitative trait locus, Quantitative trait nucleotide, Marker-assisted selection, DNA microsatellite, Single nucleotide polymorphism, Linkage disequilibrium, Genome scan, Genetic markers, Dairy cattle