The Melanocortin-1 Receptor gene (MC1R), also called Extension (E), controls black and red pigment production in cattle. Holstein cattle have another gene, Dominant Red, which overrides MC1R and produces dominant red pigment. The VGL offers 2 DNA tests to help Holstein breeders select for their preferred color variants.
MC1R includes Black/Red (Telstar)
The four alleles of the MC1R gene are dominant black (ED), Black/Red (EBR), wild type red (E+) and recessive red (e). Dominant black (ED) is dominant to the other three alleles and animals with ED are black and white. Black/Red, also known as Telstar, (EBR) results in red color at birth which changes to black at a young age, usually by 3-6 months. Wild type red (E+) produces cattle with red and white coloration that may appear darker towards the extremities of the body, especially as the animal ages. Two copies of the recessive red (e) allele result in red color. The order of dominance is ED>EBR>E+>e.
Note: The test for Black/Red color is based on a linked marker associated with the phenotype. Research is ongoing to find the causative mutation for Black/Red.
Results reported as:
|ED/ED||Black and white. This animal cannot produce red offspring. *|
|ED/EBR||Black and white, carrier of Black/Red. *|
|ED/E+||Black and white, carrier of wild type red. *|
|ED/e||Black and white, carrier of recessive red. *|
|EBR/EBR||Black/Red. This animal cannot produce true red offspring. *|
|EBR/E+||Black/Red, carrier of wild type red. *|
|EBR/e||Black/Red, carrier of recessive red. *|
|E+/E+||Wild type red and white.|
|E+/e||Wild type red and white, carrier of recessive red.|
|e/e||Recessive red and white. When bred to another e/e will produce only red offspring.|
* In the absence of Dominant Red
Dominant Red (Variant Red)
Dominant Red, as the name implies, is a dominant red color that occurs in Holstein cattle. The Dominant Red gene is independent from MC1R, a major gene controlling black and red color in Holstein. Dominant Red color is increasing in popularity among breeders. The mutation that causes Dominant Red has been identified by a team of researchers from the US, Canada and Sweden. The VGL offers a test for Dominant Red which allows breeders to identify homozygous (2 copies) animals which will always produce Red and White offspring. The Dominant Red test is also useful in determining if an animal is red due to both MC1R and Dominant Red.
Results reported as:
|N/N||No copies of Dominant Red present. Color is dependent on MC1R genotype.|
|N/DR||1 copy of Dominant Red present. Animal is red and white and 50% of offspring are expected to be red and white.|
|DR/DR||2 copies of Dominant Red present. Animal is red and white; all offspring are expected to be red and white.|