Genetic markers associated with bone composition in Rhode Island Red laying hens

Moh Sallam, Peter W Wilson, Björn Andersson, Matthias Schmutz, Cristina Benavides, Nazaret Dominguez-Gasca, Estefania Sanchez-Rodriguez, Alejandro B Rodriguez-Navarro, Ian C Dunn, Dirk-Jan De Koning, Martin Johnsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Bone damage has welfare and economic impacts on modern commercial poultry and is known as one of the major challenges in the poultry industry. Bone damage is particularly common in laying hens and is probably due to the physiological link between bone and the egg laying process. Previous studies identified and validated quantitative trait loci (QTL) for bone strength in White Leghorn laying hens based on several measurements, including bone composition measurements on the cortex and medulla of the tibia bone. In a previous pedigree-based analysis, bone composition measurements showed heritabilities ranging from 0.18 to 0.41 and moderate to strong genetic correlations with tibia strength and density. Bone composition was measured using infrared spectroscopy and thermogravimetry. The aim of this study was to combine these bone composition measurements with genotyping data via a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to investigate genetic markers that contribute to genetic variance in bone composition in Rhode Island Red laying hens. In addition, we investigated the genetic correlations between bone composition and bone strength.

RESULTS: We found novel genetic markers that are significantly associated with cortical lipid, cortical mineral scattering, medullary organic matter, and medullary mineralization. Composition of the bone organic matter showed more significant associations than bone mineral composition. We also found interesting overlaps between the GWAS results for tibia composition traits, particularly for cortical lipid and tibia strength. Bone composition measurements by infrared spectroscopy showed more significant associations than thermogravimetry measurements. Based on the results of infrared spectroscopy, cortical lipid showed the highest genetic correlations with tibia density, which was negative (- 0.20 ± 0.04), followed by cortical CO3/PO4 (0.18 ± 0.04). Based on the results of thermogravimetry, medullary organic matter% and mineral% showed the highest genetic correlations with tibia density (- 0.25 ± 0.04 and 0.25 ± 0.04, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: This study detected novel genetic associations for bone composition traits, particularly those involving organic matter, that could be used as a basis for further molecular genetic investigations. Tibia cortical lipids displayed the strongest genetic associations of all the composition measurements, including a significantly high genetic correlation with tibia density and strength. Our results also highlighted that cortical lipid may be a key measurement for further avian bone studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Chickens/genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Rhode Island
  • Lipids


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