SNP-based breeding for broiler resistance to ascites and evaluation of correlated production traits

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Ascites, SNP, Broiler, Breeding



The goal of this study was to evaluate marker-assisted selection (MAS) in broiler chickens using previously mapped gene regions associated with ascites syndrome incidence. The second-generation MAS products were assessed for impact on ascites phenotype and whether there were associated changes in important production traits. Previously, we used whole genome resequencing (WGR) to fine-map 28 chromosomal regions as associated with ascites phenotype in our experimental ascites broiler line (Relaxed, REL) based on a hypobaric chamber challenge. Genotypes for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in mapped regions on chromosomes 2 and 22, were used for MAS in our REL line. After two generations, birds homozygous for the genotypes associated with resistance for both chromosomal regions were established. The MAS F2 generation was then compared to the REL line for ascites susceptibility and 25 production traits.


Selection based on SNPs in the carboxypeptidase Q (CPQ, Gga2) and leucine rich repeat transmembrane neuronal 4 (LRRTM4, Gga22) gene regions resulted in a sex- and simulated altitude- dependent reduction of ascites incidence in two F2 cohorts of the MAS line. Comparisons of the F2 MAS and REL lines for production traits when reared at ambient pressure found no significant negative impacts for feed intake (FI), feed conversion ratio (FCR), or deboned part yields for either sex for two F2 cohorts. There were, however, improvements in the MAS for full-trial body weight gain (BWG), FCR, absolute and relative tender weights, and relative drumstick weight.


These results validate the mapping of the 28 chromosomal regions and demonstrate that fine mapping by WGR is an effective strategy for addressing a complex trait; it also stands as the first successful SNP-based selection program against a complex disease trait, such as ascites. The MAS line is comparable and, in some instances, superior, in growth performance to the REL control while being more resistant to ascites. This study indicates that MAS based on WGR can provide significant breeding potential in agricultural systems.


This article was published with support from the Open Access Publishing Fund administered through the University of Arkansas Libraries.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.