Identification of quantitative trait loci associated with egg quality, egg production, and body weight in an F2 resource population of chickens1


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    Journal Paper No. 2004-17470 of the Purdue University Agricultural Research Programs, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.

Diane Moody, 239A Kildee Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Egg production and egg quality are complex sex-limited traits that may benefit from the implementation of marker-assisted selection. The primary objective of the current study was to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with egg traits, egg production, and body weight in a chicken resource population. Layer (White Leghorn hens) and broiler (Cobb-Cobb roosters) lines were crossed to generate an F2 population of 508 hens over seven hatches. Phenotypes for 29 traits (weekly body weight from hatch to 6 weeks, egg traits including egg, albumen, yolk, and shell weight, shell thickness, shell puncture score, percentage of shell, and egg shell colour at 35 and 55 weeks of age, as well as egg production between 16 and 55 weeks of age) were measured in hens of the resource population. Genotypes of 120 microsatellite markers on 28 autosomal groups were determined, and interval mapping was conducted to identify putative QTL. Eleven QTL tests representing two regions on chromosomes 2 and 4 surpassed the 5% genome-wise significance threshold. These QTL influenced egg colour, egg and albumen weight, percent shell, body weight, and egg production. The chromosome 4 QTL region is consistent with multiple QTL studies that define chromosome 4 as a critical region significantly associated with a variety of traits across multiple resource populations. An additional 64 QTL tests surpassed the 5% chromosome-wise significance threshold.