The present study focused on the identification of epistatic QTL pairs for body composition traits (carcass cut, lean tissue, and fat tissue weights) measured at slaughter weight (140 kg of BW) in a 3-generation full-sib population developed by crossing Pietrain sires with a crossbred dam line. Depending on the trait, phenotypic observations were available for 306 to 315 F(2) animals. For the QTL analysis, 386 animals were genotyped for 88 molecular markers covering chromosomes SSC1, SSC2, SSC4, SSC6, SSC7, SSC8, SSC9, SSC10, SSC13, and SSC14. In total, 23 significant epistatic QTL pairs were identified, with the additive x additive genetic interaction being the most prevalent. Epistatic QTL were identified across all chromosomes except for SSC13, and epistatic QTL pairs accounted for between 5.8 and 10.2% of the phenotypic variance. Seven epistatic QTL pairs were between QTL that resided on the same chromosome, and 16 were between QTL that resided on different chromosomes. Sus scrofa chromosome 1, SSC2, SSC4, SSC6, SSC8, and SSC9 harbored the greatest number of epistatic QTL. The epistatic QTL pair with the greatest effect was for the entire loin weight between 2 locations on SSC7, explaining 10.2% of the phenotypic variance. Epistatic associations were identified between regions of the genome that contain the IGF-2 or melanocortin-4 receptor genes, with QTL residing in other genomic locations. Quantitative trait loci in the region of the melanocortin-4 receptor gene and on SSC7 showed significant positive dominance effects for entire belly weight, which were offset by negative dominance x dominance interactions between these QTL. In contrast, the QTL in the region of the IGF-2 gene showed significant negative dominance effects for entire ham weight, which were largely overcompensated for by positive additive x dominance genetic effects with a QTL on SSC9. The study shows that epistasis is of great importance for the genomic regulation of body composition in pigs and contributes substantially to the variation in complex traits.
- Adipose Tissue/anatomy & histology Animals Body Composition/genetics Body Weight/genetics Chromosomes, Mammalian/genetics Epistasis, Genetic/ genetics Female Genes/genetics Genes, Dominant/ genetics Genetic Markers/genetics Genotype Male Meat/ standards Phenotype Quantitative Trait Loci/ genetics Sus scrofa/ genetics