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Overlap of quantitative trait loci for early growth rate, and for body weight and age at onset of sexual maturity in chickens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-389
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Critical age, weight and body composition have been suggested as necessary correlates of sexual maturity. A genome scan to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for age and body weight at first egg (AFE and WFE) was conducted on 912 birds from an F2 broiler–layer cross using 106 microsatellite markers. Without a covariate, QTL for body WFE were detected on chromosomes 2, 4, 8, 27 and Z and a single QTL for AFE was detected on chromosome 2. With AFE as a covariate, additional QTL for body WFE were found on chromosomes 1 and 13, with abdominal fat pad as covariate a QTL for body WFE was found on chromosome 1. With body WFE as covariate, additional QTL for AFE were found on chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 13 and 27. The QTL generally acted additively and there was no evidence for epistasis. Consistent with the original line differences, broiler alleles had positive effects on body WFE and negative effects on AFE, whereas the phenotypic correlation between the two traits was positive. The mapped QTL for body WFE cumulatively accounted for almost half the body weight difference between the chicken lines at puberty. Overlapping QTL for body WFE and body weight to 9 weeks of age indicate that most QTL affecting growth rate also affect body WFE. The co-localisation of QTL for body weight, growth and sexual maturity suggests that body weight and growth rate are closely related to the attainment of sexual maturity and that the genetic determination of growth rate has correlated effects on puberty.

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