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Many quantitative trait loci for feather growth in an F2 broiler × layer cross collocate with body weight loci

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1. A genome-wide scan of 467 F2 progeny of a broiler x layer cross was conducted to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting the rate of growth of the tail, wing and back feathers, and the width of the breast feather tract, at three weeks of age.

2. Correlations between the traits ranged from 0·36 to 0·61. Males had longer tail and wing feathers and shorter back feathers than females. Breast feather tract width was greater in females than males.

3. QTL effects were generally additive and accounted for 11 to 45% of sex average feather lengths of the breeds, and 100% of the breast feather tract width. Positive and negative alleles were inherited from both lines, whereas the layer allele was larger than the broiler allele after adjusting for body weight.

4. A total of 4 genome-significant and 4 suggestive QTL were detected. At three or 6 weeks of age, 5 of the QTL were located in similar regions as QTL for body weight.

5. Analysis of a model with body weight at three weeks as a covariate identified 5 genome significant and 6 suggestive QTL, of which only two were coincident with body weight QTL. One QTL for feather length at 148 cM on GGA1 was identified at a similar location in the unadjusted analysis.

6. The results suggest that the rate of feather growth is largely controlled by body weight QTL, and that QTL specific for feather growth also exist.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush,Midlothian EH25 9RG, Scotland

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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