Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with average daily gain (ADG) and dry matter intake (DMI), two major components of feed efficiency in cattle, were identified in a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Uni- and multi-SNP models were used to describe feed efficiency in a training data set and the results were confirmed in a validation data set. Results from the univariate and bivariate analyses of ADG and DMI, adjusted by the feedlot beef steer maintenance requirements, were compared. The bivariate uni-SNP analysis identified (P-value <0.0001) 11 SNPs, meanwhile the univariate analyses of ADG and DMI identified 8 and 9 SNPs, respectively. Among the six SNPs confirmed in the validation data set, five SNPs were mapped to KDELC2, PHOX2A, and TMEM40. Findings from the uni-SNP models were used to develop highly accurate predictive multi-SNP models in the training data set. Despite the substantially smaller size of the validation data set, the training multi-SNP models had slightly lower predictive ability when applied to the validation data set. Six Gene Ontology molecular functions related to ion transport activity were enriched (P-value <0.001) among the genes associated with the detected SNPs. The findings from this study demonstrate the complementary value of the uni- and multi-SNP models, and univariate and bivariate GWAS analyses. The identified SNPs can be used for genome-enabled improvement of feed efficiency in feedlot beef cattle, and can aid in the design of empirical studies to further confirm the associations.
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