Intramuscular fat (IMF) is one of the main meat quality traits for breeding programmes in livestock species. The main objective of this study was to identify genomic regions associated with IMF content comparing two rabbit populations divergently selected for this trait, and to generate a list of putative candidate genes. Animals were genotyped using the Affymetrix Axiom OrcunSNP Array (200k). After quality control, the data involved 477 animals and 93 540 SNPs. Two methods were used in this research: single marker regressions with the data adjusted by genomic relatedness, and a Bayesian multiple marker regression. Associated genomic regions were located on the rabbit chromosomes (OCU) OCU1, OCU8 and OCU13. The highest value for the percentage of the genomic variance explained by a genomic region was found in two consecutive genomic windows on OCU8 (7.34%). Genes in the associated regions of OCU1 and OCU8 presented biological functions related to the control of adipose cell function, lipid binding, transportation and localisation (APOLD1, PLBD1, PDE6H, GPRC5D and GPRC5A) and lipid metabolic processes (MTMR2). The EWSR1 gene, underlying the OCU13 region, is linked to the development of brown adipocytes. The findings suggest that there is a large component of polygenic effect behind the differences in IMF content in these two lines, as the variance explained by most of the windows was low. The genomic regions of OCU1, OCU8 and OCU13 revealed novel candidate genes. Further studies would be needed to validate the associations and explore their possible application in selection programmes.
- divergent selection
- genome-wide association study
- intramuscular fat
- meat quality
- Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences - Research Fellow
- MRC Human Genetics Unit
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