Understanding seasonal weight loss tolerance in dairy goats: A transcriptomics approach

José Ricardo Parreira, Lorenzo Enrique Hernández-Castellano, Anastasio Argüello, Juan Capote, Noemí Castro, Susana De Sousa Araújo, André Martinho De Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Seasonal weight loss (SWL) is a very important limitation to the production of ruminants in the Mediterranean and Tropical regions. In these areas, long dry seasons lead to poor pastures with low nutritional value. During the dry season, ruminants, particularly those raised in extensive production systems, lose around 30% of their body weight. Seasonal weight loss has important consequences on animal productive performance and health. In this study, RNA sequencing was used to characterize feed restriction effects in dairy goat of 2 breeds with different SWL tolerance: Majorera (tolerant) and Palmera (susceptible). Nine Majorera and ten Palmera goats were randomly distributed in a control and a restricted group: Majorera Control (adequately fed; MC; n = 4), Palmera Control (adequately fed; PC; n = 6), Majorera Restricted (feed restricted; ME; n = 5) and Palmera Restricted (feed restricted; PE; n = 4). On day 22 of the trial, mammary gland biopsies were collected for transcriptomics analysis. Results: From these samples, 24,260 unique transcripts were identified. From those, 82 transcripts were differentially expressed between MC and ME, 99 between PC and PE, twelve between both control groups and twenty-nine between both restricted groups. Conclusions: Feed restriction affected several biochemical pathways in both breeds such as: carbohydrate and lipid transport; intracellular trafficking, RNA processing and signal transduction. This research also highlights the importance or involvement of the genes in tolerance (ENPP1, S-LZ, MT2A and GPNB) and susceptibility (GPD1, CTPS1, ELOVL6 and NR4A1) to SWL with respectively higher expression in the Majorera restriced group and the Palmera restricted group in comparison to the control groups. In addition, results from the study may be extrapolated to other dairy ruminant species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number629
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2020


  • Goat
  • Mammary gland
  • RNA-sequencing
  • Seasonal weight loss
  • Transcriptomics


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