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Genome-wide association studies for seven production traits highlight genomic regions useful to dissect dry-cured ham quality and production traits in Duroc heavy pigs

  • F. Bertolini (a1) (a2), G. Schiavo (a2), G. Galimberti (a3), S. Bovo (a2), M. D’Andrea (a4), M. Gallo (a5), L. Buttazzoni (a6), M. F. Rothschild (a1) and L. Fontanesi (a2)...


Protected designation of origin dry-cured hams are obtained from heavy pigs (slaughtered at about 160 kg of live weight). A specific breeding program designed to improve meat quality for this production has included as key traits the level of intermuscular fat between the leg muscles and ham weight loss during the seasoning period together with a balance between fat and lean cuts. In this study we carried out genome-wide association studies for seven traits used in the genetic merit of Italian Duroc heavy pigs, five related to meat and carcass quality traits (visible intermuscular fat, ham weight loss at first salting, backfat thickness, ham weight and lean cuts), and two related to performance and efficiency traits (average daily gain and feed : gain ratio). A total of 573 performance-tested pigs were genotyped with the Illumina PorcineSNP60 BeadChip and genome-wide association analyses were carried out using the Bayes B approach with the 1 Mb window option of GenSel and random residuals for each of the seven traits. Detected windows were supported by independent single nucleotide polymorphism analyses with a linear mixed model (LMM) approach on the same animals for the same traits. A total of 30 windows identifying different quantitative trait loci (QTL) were detected and among those, 27 were confirmed by LMM in one of these traits. Among the confirmed windows, three QTL were reported for visible intermuscular fat, seven for ham weight loss at first salting and five and four for backfat thickness and lean cut, respectively. A total of eight QTL were detected for the other production traits. No overlapping QTL were reported except for one window on porcine chromosome 10 between lean cuts and ham weight that contained the CACNB2 gene that has been already associated with loin marbling score in other Duroc pigs. Several regions contained genes that have been already associated with production traits in other pig breeds, including Duroc lines, related to fat deposition or muscle structure. This work reports, for the first time, genome-wide association study results for several traits in Italian Duroc heavy pigs. These results will be useful to dissect the genetic basis for dry-cured ham production traits that determine the total genetic merit index of Italian Duroc pigs.


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