Genetic link between cattle temperament and autism

28 Aug 2020

A strong association between the genes influencing cattle temperament and autism in humans has been discovered by University of Queensland researchers.

UQ genomic expert Professor Ben Hayes said the research by his interdisciplinary team headed by Dr Roy Costilla could lead to improved animal welfare and meat quality.

“The research doesn’t mean that cattle have autism; rather that cattle share an overlap of genes with humans which are critical in brain function and response to fear stimuli,” Professor Hayes said.

“Temperament is an important trait for day-to-day management of cattle.

“We knew that genetic factors were likely to influence temperament in cattle, and we thought that genes involved in behavioural traits in humans could also influence temperament in cattle.

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The study was a result of strong cooperation between Australian researchers, the beef industry and international collaborators from Ireland and Brazil.   

The research is published in Genetics Selection Evolution (DOI: 10.1186/s12711-020-00569-z).