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Anim Genet. 2012 Oct;43(5):545-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2011.02313.x. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Mapping and fine mapping of quantitative trait loci for the number of vertebrae in a White Duroc × Chinese Erhualian intercross resource population.

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  • 1Key Laboratory for Animal Biotechnology of Jiangxi Province and Ministry of Agriculture of China, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, 330045, China.


The number of vertebrae is associated with body size and meat production in pigs. To identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for the number of vertebrae, phenotypic values were measured in 1029 individuals from a White Duroc × Chinese Erhualian intercross F(2) population. A whole genome scan was performed with 194 microsatellite markers in the F(2) population. Four genome-wide significant QTL and eight chromosome-wide significant QTL for the number of vertebrae were identified on pig chromosomes (SSC) 1, 2, 6, 7, 10 and 12. The most significant QTL was detected on SSC7 with a confidence interval of 1 cM, explaining 42.32% of the phenotypic variance in the thoracic vertebral number. The significant QTL on SSC1, 2 and 7 confirmed previous reports. A panel of 276 animals representing seven Western and Chinese breeds was genotyped with 34 microsatellite markers in the SSC7 QTL region. No obvious selective sweep effect was observed in the tested breeds, indicating that intensive selection for enlarged body size in Western commercial breeds did not wipe out the genetic variability in the QTL region. The Q alleles for increased vertebral number originated from both Chinese Erhualian and White Duroc founder animals. A haplotype block of approximately 900 kb was found to be shared by all Q-bearing chromosomes of F(1) sires except for one distinct Q chromosome. The critical region harbours the newly reported VRTN gene associated with vertebral number. Further investigations are required to confirm whether VRTN or two other positional candidate genes, PROX2 and FOS, cause the QTL effect.

© 2012 The Authors, Animal Genetics © 2012 Stichting International Foundation for Animal Genetics.

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