Analysis of SNP variation associated with important economic and CT measured traits in Texel sheep
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Sheep are an important part of the global agricultural economy. Growth and meat production traits are significant economic traits in sheep. The Texel breed is the most popular terminal sire breed in the UK, mainly selected for muscle growth and lean carcasses. This is a study based on a genome-wide association approach that investigates the links between some economically important traits, including Computed Tomography (CT) measurements, and molecular polymorphisms in UK Texel sheep. Our main aim was to identify Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) associated with growth, carcass, health and welfare traits of the Texel sheep breed. This study used data from 384 Texel rams. Data comprised 10 traits, including 2 CT measured traits. The phenotypic data were placed in four categories: growth traits, carcass traits, health traits and welfare traits. De-regressed estimated breeding values (EBV) for these traits together with sire genotypes derived with the Ovine 50K SNP array of Illumina were jointly analysed in a genome wide association analysis. Eight novel chromosome-wise significant associations were found for carcass, growth, health and welfare traits. Three significant markers were intronic variants and the remainder intergenic variants. This study is a first step to search for genomic regions controlling CT based productivity traits related to body and carcass composition in a terminal sire sheep breed using a 50K SNP genome-wide array. Results are important for the further development of strategies to identify causal variants associated with CT measures and other commercial traits in sheep. Independent studies are needed to confirm these results and identify candidate genes for the studied traits.
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