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J Anim Sci. 2017 Dec;95(12):5270-5277. doi: 10.2527/jas2017.1714.

Gene expression profiling reveals candidate genes related to residual feed intake in duodenum of laying ducks.


Feed represents two-thirds of the total costs of poultry production, especially in developing countries. Improvement in feed efficiency would reduce the amount of feed required for production (growth or laying), the production cost, and the amount of nitrogenous waste. The most commonly used measures for feed efficiency are feed conversion ratio (FCR) and residual feed intake (RFI). As a more suitable indicator assessing feed efficiency, RFI is defined as the difference between observed and expected feed intake based on maintenance and growth or laying. However, the genetic and biological mechanisms regulating RFI are largely unknown. Identifying molecular mechanisms explaining divergence in RFI in laying ducks would lead to the development of early detection methods for the selection of more efficient breeding poultry. The objective of this study was to identify duodenum genes and pathways through transcriptional profiling in 2 extreme RFI phenotypes (HRFI and LRFI) of the duck population. Phenotypic aspects of feed efficiency showed that RFI was strongly positive with FCR and feed intake (FI). Transcriptomic analysis identified 35 differentially expressed genes between LRFI and HRFI ducks. These genes play an important role in metabolism, digestibility, secretion, and innate immunity including (), (), (), β (), and (). These results improve our knowledge of the biological basis underlying RFI, which would be useful for further investigations of key candidate genes for RFI and for the development of biomarkers.

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