Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The effect of the MC4R gene on boar taint compounds, sexual maturity and behaviour in growing-finishing boars and gilts

  • A. Van den Broeke (a1), M. Aluwé (a1), S. Janssens (a2), J. Wauters (a3), L. Vanhaecke (a3), N. Buys (a2), S. Millet (a1) and F. A. M. Tuyttens (a1)...

Abstract

Societal pressure to ban surgical castration of male piglets is rising due to animal welfare concerns, thus other methods to prevent boar taint need to be explored. Genetic selection against boar taint appears to be a long-term sustainable alternative. However, as boar taint is linked to reproductive hormones, it is important to consider possible negative side effects such as delayed sexual maturity or changes in behaviour. We reported earlier that the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) marker can be used to reduce boar taint levels in fat of boars. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether MC4R marker-assisted selection for lower boar taint prevalence affects plasma levels of boar taint compounds and testosterone; sexual maturity; behaviour; skin lesions; and lameness in boars and gilts. Using an intervention study with a 2×2 design, 264 boars and gilts differing on position 893 of the MC4R gene (AA v. GG) were compared. The MC4R polymorphism did not affect the plasma concentration of either androstenone or testosterone at different time points, whereas the concentration of skatole was significantly lower (P=0.003) and the concentration of indole tended to be lower (P=0.074) in GG compared with AA boars. A higher percentage of gilts of the GG genotype were in puberty at slaughter age compared with AA gilts (P<0.001). The age of the boars at sexual maturity (as indicated by the first positive preputial smear test) did not differ between AA and GG boars. In contrast, weight of GG boars at sexual maturity tended to be lower (P=0.065). During the period from 6 weeks of age to slaughter, boars and gilts of the GG genotype showed more playing behaviour (P=0.015) and less passive and feeding behaviour (P=0.003). They showed more skin lesions on their back and caudal area (P=0.022), and tended to show more skin lesions on their head and anterior area (P=0.093) compared with AA animals. In conclusion, the polymorphism in the MC4R gene can be used as a marker without negative effects on reproduction characteristics in boars and gilts. Genetic selection towards a lower prevalence of boar taint will lead to more active pigs with more skin lesions. Management strategies may therefore be necessary to reduce skin lesions in the selected animals.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Aluwé, M, Millet, S, Nijs, G, Tuyttens, FA, Verheyden, K, Brabander, HF, Brabander, DL and Oeckel, MJ 2009. Absence of an effect of dietary fibre or clinoptilolite on boar taint in entire male pigs fed practical diets. Meat Science 82, 346352.
Aluwé, M, Bekaert, KM, Tuyttens, FA, Vanhaecke, L, De, SS, De Brabander, HF, De Brabander, DL and Millet, S 2011a. Influence of soiling on boar taint in boars. Meat Science 87, 175179.
Aluwé, M, Millet, S, Bekaert, KM, Tuyttens, FA, Vanhaecke, L, De, SS and De Brabander, DL 2011b. Influence of breed and slaughter weight on boar taint prevalence in entire male pigs. Animal 5, 12831289.
Bagg, MA, Vassena, R, Papasso-Brambilla, E, Grupen, CG, Armstrong, DT and Gandolfi, F 2004. Changes in ovarian, follicular, and oocyte morphology immediately after the onset of puberty are not accompanied by an increase in oocyte developmental competence in the pig. Theriogenology 62, 10031011.
Bekaert, KM, Vanden Bussche, J, Francois, S, Tuyttens, FA, De Brabander, HF, Vandendriessche, F and Vanhaecke, L 2012. A validated ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry analysis for the simultaneous quantification of the three known boar taint compounds. Journal of Chromatography A 1239, 4955.
Beltranena, E, Aherne, FX, Foxcroft, GR and Kirkwood, RN 1991. Effects of pre-and postpubertal feeding on production traits at first and second estrus in gilts. Journal of Animal Science 69, 886893.
Claus, R, Weiler, U and Herzog, A 1994. Physiological aspects of androstenone and skatole formation in the boar – a review with experimental data. Meat Science 38, 289305.
Dorries, KM, Adkinsregan, E and Halpern, BP 1991. Sex difference in olfactory sensitivity to the boar chemosignal, androstenone, in the domestic pig. Animal Behaviour 42, 403411.
Dorries, KM, Adkinsregan, E and Halpern, BP 1995. Olfactory sensitivity to the pheromone, androstenone, is sexually dimorphic in the pig. Physiology and Behavior 57, 255259.
Ford, JJ and Wise, TH 2011. Assessment of pubertal development of boars derived from ultrasonographic determination of testicular diameter. Theriogenology 75, 241247.
Gaughan, JB, Cameron, RD, Dryden, GM and Young, BA 1997. Effect of body composition at selection on reproductive development in large white gilts. Journal of Animal Science 75, 17641772.
Gbore, FA 2009. Growth performance and puberty attainment in growing pigs fed dietary fumonisin B(1). Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 93, 761767.
Grindflek, E, Meuwissen, THE, Aasmundstad, T, Hamland, H, Hansen, MHS, Nome, T, Kent, M, Torjesen, P and Lien, S 2011. Revealing genetic relationships between compounds affecting boar taint and reproduction in pigs. Journal of Animal Science 89, 680692.
Ingram, DL and Dauncey, MJ 1985. Circadian rhythms in the pig. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology 82, 15.
Israel, DD, Sheffer-Babila, S, de Luca, C, Jo, YH, Liu, SM, Xia, Q, Spergel, DJ, Dun, SL, Dun, NJ and Chua, SC 2012. Effects of leptin and melanocortin signaling interactions on pubertal development and reproduction. Endocrinology 153, 24082419.
Kim, KS, Larsen, N, Short, T, Plastow, G and Rothschild, MF 2000. A missense variant of the porcine melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene is associated with fatness, growth, and feed intake traits. Mammalian Genome 11, 131135.
Kummer, R, Bernardi, ML, Schenkel, AC, Amaral Filha, WS, Wentz, I and Bortolozzo, FP 2009. Reproductive performance of gilts with similar age but with different growth rate at the onset of puberty stimulation. Reproduction in Domestic Animals 44, 255259.
McGlone, JJ and Morrow, JL 1988. Reduction of pig agonistic behavior by androstenone. Journal of Animal Science 66, 880884.
Mörlein, D, Lungershausen, M, Steinke, K, Sharifi, AR and Knorr, C 2012. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the CYP2E1 gene promoter affects skatole content in backfat of boars of two commercial Duroc-sired crossbred populations. Meat Science 92, 739744.
Nelson, AH, Mabry, JW, Benyshek, LL and Marks, MA 1990. Correlated response in reproduction, growth and composition to selection in gilts for extremes in age at puberty and backfat. Livestock Production Science 24, 237247.
Oskam, IC, Ropstad, E, Berg, KA, Fredriksen, B, Larsen, S, Dahl, E and Andresen, O 2008. Testicular germ cell development in relation to 5 alpha-androstenone levels in pubertal entire male pigs. Theriogenology 69, 967976.
Patterson, JL, Ball, RO, Willis, HJ, Aherne, FX and Foxcroft, GR 2002. The effect of lean growth rate on puberty attainment in gilts. Journal of Animal Science 80, 12991310.
Perry, GC, Patterson, RLS, MacFie, HJH and Stinson, CG 1980. Pig courtship behaviour: pheromonal property of androstene steroids in male submaxillary secretion. Animal Production 31, 191199.
R Core Team 2013. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/.
Rozeboom, DW, Pettigrew, JE, Moser, RL, Cornelius, SG and El Kandelgy, SM 1995. Body composition of gilts at puberty. Journal of Animal Science 73, 25242531.
Rydhmer, L, Zamaratskaia, G, Andersson, HK, Algers, B, Guillemet, R and Lundstrom, K 2006. Aggressive and sexual behaviour of growing and finishing pigs reared in groups, without castration. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science 56, 109119.
Schroyen, M, Janssens, S, Stinckens, A, Brebels, M, Bertolini, F, Lamberigts, C, Bekaert, K, Vanhaecke, L, Aluwé, M, Tuyttens, FAM, Millet, S and Buys, N 2015. The MC4R c.893G>A mutation: a marker for growth and leanness associated with boar taint odour in Belgian pig breeds. Meat Science 101, 14.
Sellier, P and Bonneau, M 1988. Genetic relationships between fat androstenone level in males and development of male and female genital tract in pigs. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics 105, 1120.
Strathe, AB, Velander, IH, Mark, T, Ostersen, T, Hansen, C and Kadarmideen, HN 2013. Genetic parameters for male fertility and its relationship to skatole and androstenone in Danish Landrace boars. Journal of Animal Science 91, 46594668.
Turner, SP, Farnworth, MJ, White, I, Brotherstone, S, Mendl, M, Knap, P, Penny, P and Lawrence, AB 2006. The accumulation of skin lesions and their use as a predictor of individual aggressiveness in pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 96, 245259.
Tuyttens, FA, Vanhonacker, F, Langendries, K, Aluwé, M, Millet, S, Bekaert, K and Verbeke, W 2011. Effect of information provisioning on attitude toward surgical castration of male piglets and alternative strategies for avoiding boar taint. Research in Veterinary Science 91, 327332.
Van den Broeke, A, Aluwé, M, Tuyttens, FAM, Ampe, B, Vanhaecke, L, Wauters, J, Janssens, S, Coussé, A, Buys, N and Millet, S 2015. An intervention study demonstrates effects of MC4R genotype on boar taint and performances of growing-finishing pigs. Journal of Animal Science 93, 934943.
Vandenbergh, JG 1971. The penile smear: an index of sexual maturity in male golden hamsters. Biology of Reproduction 4, 234237.
Vanhonacker, F, Verbeke, W and Tuyttens, FAM 2009. Belgian consumers’ attitude towards surgical castration and immunocastration of piglets. Animal Welfare 18, 371380.
Walker, WH 2010. Non-classical actions of testosterone and spermatogenesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365, 15571569.
Weiler, U, Götz, M, Schmidt, A, Otto, M and Müller, S 2013. Influence of sex and immunocastration on feed intake behavior, skatole and indole concentrations in adipose tissue of pigs. Animal 7, 300308.
Wesoly, R and Weiler, U 2012. Nutritional Influences on skatole formation and skatole metabolism in the pig. Animals 2, 221242.
Willeke, H, Claus, R, Muller, E, Pirchner, F and Karg, H 1987. Selection for high and low level of 5α-androst-16-en-3-one in boars. I. Direct and correlated response of endocrinologic traits. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics 104, 6473.
Young, MG, Tokach, MD, Aherne, FX, Dritz, SS, Goodband, RD, Nelssen, JL and Loughin, TM 2008. Effect of space allowance during rearing and selection criteria on performance of gilts over three parities in a commercial swine production system. Journal of Animal Science 86, 31813193.
Zamaratskaia, G and Squires, EJ 2009. Biochemical, nutritional and genetic effects on boar taint in entire male pigs. Animal 3, 15081521.
Zamaratskaia, G, Babol, J, Andersson, H and Lundstrom, K 2004. Plasma skatole and androstenone levels in entire male pigs and relationship between boar taint compounds, sex steroids and thyroxine at various ages. Livestock Production Science 87, 9198.

Keywords

The effect of the MC4R gene on boar taint compounds, sexual maturity and behaviour in growing-finishing boars and gilts

  • A. Van den Broeke (a1), M. Aluwé (a1), S. Janssens (a2), J. Wauters (a3), L. Vanhaecke (a3), N. Buys (a2), S. Millet (a1) and F. A. M. Tuyttens (a1)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed