peer-reviewedBackground: Here, we jointly summarise scientific evidence for genetic variation in resistance to infection with Mycobacterium bovis, the primary agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB), provided by two recent and separate studies of Holstein-Friesian dairy cow populations in Great Britain (GB) and Ireland. Methods: The studies quantified genetic variation within archived data from field and abattoir surveillance control programmes within each country. These data included results from the single intradermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT), abattoir inspection for TB lesions and laboratory confirmation of disease status. Threshold animal models were used to estimate variance components for responsiveness to the SICTT and abattoir confirmed M. bovis infection. The link functions between the observed 0/1 scale and the liability scale were the complementary log-log in the GB, and logit link function in the Irish population. Results and discussion: The estimated heritability of susceptibility to TB, as judged by responsiveness to the SICTT, was 0.16 (0.012) and 0.14 (0.025) in the GB and Irish populations, respectively. For abattoir or laboratory confirmation of infection, estimates were 0.18 (0.044) and 0.18 (0.041) from the GB and the Irish populations, respectively. Conclusions: Estimates were all significantly different from zero and indicate that exploitable variation exists among GB and Irish Holstein Friesian dairy cows for resistance to TB. Epidemiological analysis suggests that factors such as variation in exposure or imperfect sensitivity and specificity would have resulted in underestimation of the true values.Welsh Assembly Government; Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Ireland Eradication of Animal Disease Board; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant BB/E018335/2); The Roslin Institute Strategic Programme
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