A complex multi-locus, multi-allelic genetic architecture underlying the long-term selection-response in the Virginia body weight line of chickens

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Yanjun ZanÖrjan Carlborg


The ability of a population to adapt to changes in their living conditions, whether in nature or captivity, often depends on polymorphisms in multiple genes across the genome. In-depth studies of such polygenic adaptations are difficult in natural populations, but can be approached using the resources provided by artificial selection experiments. Here, we dissect the genetic mechanisms involved in long-term selection responses of the Virginia chicken lines, populations that after 40 generations of divergent selection for 56-day body weight display a nine-fold difference in the selected trait. In the F15 generation of an intercross between the divergent lines, 20 loci explained more than 60% of the additive genetic variance for the selected trait. We focused particularly on seven major QTL and found that only two fine-mapped to single, bi-allelic loci; the other five contained linked loci, multiple alleles or were epistatic. This detailed dissection of the polygenic adaptations in the Virginia lines provides a deeper understanding of genome-wide mechanisms involved in the long-term selection responses. The results illustrate that long-term selection responses, even from populations with a limited genetic diversity, can be polyge...Continue Reading

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