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Association study highlights the influence of ELOVL fatty acid elongase 6 gene region on backfat fatty acid composition in Large White pig breed

  • M. Zappaterra (a1), R. Ros-Freixedes (a2), J. Estany (a2) and R. Davoli (a1)


Dietary fatty acid (FA) composition has an impact on human health. There is an increasing request from consumers for healthier food and pork industry must respond to it without worsening performance and the technological properties of pork products. The inclusion of genetic markers for carcass FA composition in pig selection schemes could be a useful tool to reach the right balance between unsaturated and saturated FAs to satisfy market demands. With the aim of finding genomic regions associated with porcine backfat FA composition, a genome-wide association study was performed on 798 Italian Large White pigs genotyped using Illumina PorcineSNP60 k. The strongest associations with backfat contents of palmitic, palmitoleic, oleic, medium-chain and long-chain FAs were found for the Sus scrofa chromosome (SSC) 8 region located at 119 to 122 Mb, where the gene ELOVL FA elongase 6 is mapped. Palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and oleic acid contents were also found associated with SSC14, in particular with the genomic region at 121 to 124 Mb, where stearoyl-CoA desaturase Δ9 gene lies. On the other hand, the genomic regions associated with backfat contents of arachidic, arachidonic, n-6 and n-3 FAs showed to harbour mainly genes involved in dietary lipids and carbohydrates digestion, absorption and utilisation. To our knowledge, this is the first study performed in Large White pigs identifying markers and genomic regions associated with backfat FA composition. The results validate in Large White some associations previously detected in other pig breeds and indicate the involvement of distinct metabolic pathways in the deposition pattern of essential and non-essential FAs.


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



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