Quantitative trait locus detection in commercial broiler lines using candidate regions

D J de Koning, D Windsor, P M Hocking, D W Burt, A Law, C S Haley, A Morris, J Vincent, H Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A QTL that explained a large proportion of the phenotypic difference between broiler and layer chickens in an experimental cross was evaluated in a commercial broiler line. A three-generation design, consisting of 15 grandsires, 608 half-sib hens, and more than 50,000 third-generation offspring, was implemented within the existing breeding scheme of a broiler breeding company. Four markers from a candidate region on chicken chromosome 4 were selected for their informativeness in the grandsires and used to genotype the first two generations. Using half-sib analyses, linkage was studied between these markers and 13 growth and carcass traits. The QTL analyses confirmed the presence of significant QTL for body weight (P <0.01) and residual feed intake (P <0.05) on chicken chromosome 4. Furthermore, evidence was found for QTL affecting the relative weight of bone and muscle in the thigh. Four more markers were added to increase resolution of the QTL positions. This increased the significance of the QTL for body weight (P <0.001) and residual feed intake (P <0.01) and showed evidence (P <0.05) for additional QTL affecting carcass weight and conformation score. This study showed for the first time that a QTL that explains differences between broilers and layers was segregating in lines that have been selected for body weight over 50 generations. A possible explanation could be a pleiotropic or closely linked effect on fitness-related traits that are not part of the present study. The results demonstrate the feasibility of QTL detection and the potential for marker-assisted selection within a commercial broiler line without altering the existing breeding scheme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1158-65
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


  • Animals
  • Body Weight/genetics
  • Breeding/methods
  • Chickens/genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Eating/genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Selection, Genetic


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