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Genetics. 2008 Mar;178(3):1559-70. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.084236. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

The contribution of social effects to heritable variation in finishing traits of domestic pigs (Sus scrofa).

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  • 1Institute for Pig Genetics, Beuningen, The Netherlands. rob.bergsma@IPG.nl

Abstract

Social interactions among individuals are ubiquitous both in animals and in plants, and in natural as well as domestic populations. These interactions affect both the direction and the magnitude of responses to selection and are a key factor in evolutionary success of species and in the design of breeding schemes in agriculture. At present, however, very little is known of the contribution of social effects to heritable variance in trait values. Here we present estimates of the direct and social genetic variance in growth rate, feed intake, back fat thickness, and muscle depth in a population of 14,032 domestic pigs with known pedigree. Results show that social effects contribute the vast majority of heritable variance in growth rate and feed intake in this population. Total heritable variance expressed relative to phenotypic variance was 71% for growth rate and 70% for feed intake. These values clearly exceed the usual range of heritability for those traits. Back fat thickness and muscle depth showed no heritable variance due to social effects. Our results suggest that genetic improvement in agriculture can be substantially advanced by redirecting breeding schemes, so as to capture heritable variance due to social effects.

PMID:
18245326
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2391867
Free PMC Article
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