Genome wide association studies for carcass traits measured by video image analysis in crossbred lambs

K Kaseja*, NR Lambe, J Yates, E. M. Smith, JE Conington

*Corresponding author for this work

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This is the first UK genome wide association study investigating potential links between Video Image Analysis (VIA) carcass traits and molecular polymorphisms in crossbred sheep. Phenotypic and genotypic data were collected from two crossbred lamb populations: Texel x Scotch Mule (TxSM, n = 2330) and Texel x Lleyn (TxL, n = 3816). Traits measured included live weights at birth, eight weeks and weaning (∼15 weeks). VIA-predicted traits included total weights and weights of fat, muscle and bone in the whole carcass and primal (hind leg, saddle, shoulder) regions. Within-breed heritabilities estimated for the VIA traits ranged from 0.01 to 0.70, indicating potential for inclusion of some traits in breeding programmes. The two crossbred populations differed in SNPs associated with different traits. Two SNPs on chromosomes two (s74618.1) and eight (s68536.1), respectively, reached genome-wise significance for TxSM, explaining <1% of trait variance, for whole carcass fat and muscle weights, hind leg and saddle fat weights and shoulder bone weights. For TxL, four SNPs reached genome-wise significance, on chromosome two for hind leg muscle weight (OAR2_117,959,202 and OAR2_11804335), on chromosome 10 for whole carcass bone weight (OAR19_8,995,957.1), and on chromosome 19 for weaning weight (s40847.1), each explaining <1% of trait genetic variation. Differences in apparent genetic control of carcass traits may be influenced by the lambs' cross-breed, but also by management decisions affecting environmental variance and trait definitions, which should be understood in order to define protocols for incorporation of carcass traits into (cross)breeding programmes. Implications: Combining VIA-measured carcass traits with conventional production traits in a breeding programme could potentially improve the production and product quality of meat sheep. Phenotypes for VIA traits could be collected relatively easily if VIA machines were present at all abattoir sites. The current study and future Genome Wide Association Studies may help to identify potentially informative molecular markers, that explain large proportions of the genetic variance observed in VIA-measured carcass traits. Including this information in the estimation of breeding values could increase the accuracy of prediction, increasing the potential rate of genetic improvement for product quality. This study confirms the polygenic architecture of the investigated carcass traits, with a small number of molecular markers that each explain a small amount of genetic variation. Further studies across breed types are recommended to further test and validate molecular markers for traits related to lamb carcass quality, as measured by video image analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109518
JournalMeat Science
Early online date16 Apr 2024
Publication statusFirst published - 16 Apr 2024

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  • Genome wide association study (GWAS)
  • Carcass traits
  • Crossbred lambs
  • Video image analysis (VIA)


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