Detecting signatures of selection in nine distinct lines of broiler chickens

John J. Stainton, Chris S. Haley, Brain Charlesworth, Andreas Kranis, Kellie Watson, Pamela Wiener*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern commercial chickens have been bred for one of two specific purposes: meat production (broilers) or egg production (layers). This has led to large phenotypic changes, so that the genomic signatures of selection may be detectable using statistical techniques. Genetic differentiation between nine distinct broiler lines was calculated using Weir and Cockerham's pairwise FST estimator for 11 003 genome-wide markers to identify regions showing evidence of differential selection across lines. Differentiation measures were averaged into overlapping sliding windows for each line, and a permutation approach was used to determine the significance of each window. A total of 51 regions were found to show significant differentiation between the lines. Several lines were consistently found to share significant regions, suggesting that the pattern of line divergence is related to selection for broiler traits. The majority of the 51 regions contain QTL relating to broiler traits, but only five of them were found to be significantly enriched for broiler QTL, including a region on chromosome 27 containing 39 broiler QTL and 114 genes. Additionally, a number of these regions have been identified by other selection mapping studies. This study has identified a large number of potential selection signatures, and further tests with higher-density marker data may narrow these regions down to individual genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • genetic differentiation
  • poultry
  • selection signatures
  • selective sweep mapping


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