Wing length is a key character for essential behaviours related to bird flight such as migration and foraging. In the present study, we initiate the search for the genes underlying wing length in birds by studying a long-distance migrant, the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). In this species wing length is an evolutionary interesting trait with pronounced latitudinal gradient and sex-specific selection regimes in local populations. We performed a quantitative trait locus (QTL) scan for wing length in great reed warblers using phenotypic, genotypic, pedigree and linkage map data from our long-term study population in Sweden. We applied the linkage analysis mapping method implemented in GRIDQTL (a new web-based software) and detected a genome-wide significant QTL for wing length on chromosome 2, to our knowledge, the first detected QTL in wild birds. The QTL extended over 25 cM and accounted for a substantial part (37%) of the phenotypic variance of the trait. A genome scan for tarsus length (a body-size-related trait) did not show any signal, implying that the wing-length QTL on chromosome 2 was not associated with body size. Our results provide a first important step into understanding the genetic architecture of avian wing length, and give opportunities to study the evolutionary dynamics of wing length at the locus level.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 7 Aug 2010|