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Molecular genetics of chicken egg quality

Honkatukia, Mervi (2010) Molecular genetics of chicken egg quality. PhD thesis, MTT Agrifood Research Finland. MTT Science, no. 14. MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

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Summary

Faultless quality in eggs is important in all production steps, from chicken to packaging, transportation, storage, and finally to the consumer. The egg industry (specifically transportation and packing) is interested in robustness, the consumer in safety and taste, and the chicken itself in the reproductive performance of the egg. High quality is commercially profitable, and egg quality is currently one of the key traits in breeding goals. In conventional breeding schemes, the more traits that are included in a selection index, the slower the rate of genetic progress for all the traits will be. The unveiling of the genes underlying the traits, and subsequent utilization of this genomic information in practical breeding, would enhance the selection progress, especially with traits of low inheritance, genderconfined traits, or traits which are difficult to assess.
In this study, two experimental mapping populations were used to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) of egg quality traits. A whole genome scan was conducted in both populations with different sets of microsatellite markers. Phenotypic observations of albumen quality, internal inclusions, egg taint, egg shell quality traits, and production traits during the entire production period were collected. To study the presence of QTL, a multiple marker linear regression was used. Polymorphisms found in candidate genes were used as SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) markers to refine the map position of QTL by linkage and association. Furthermore, independent commercial egg layer lines were utilized to confirm some of the associations.
Albumen quality, the incidence of internal inclusions, and egg taint were first mapped with the whole genome scan and fine-mapped with subsequent analyses. In albumen quality, two distinct QTL areas were found on chromosome 2. Vimentin, a gene maintaining the mechanical integrity of the cells, was studied as a candidate gene. Neither sequencing nor subsequent analysis using SNP within the gene in the QTL analysis suggested that variation in this gene could explain the effect on albumen thinning. The same mapping approach was used to study the incidence of internal inclusions, specifically, blood and meat spots. Linkage analysis revealed one genome-wide significant region on chromosome Z. Fine-mapping exposed that the QTL overlapped with a tight junction protein gene ZO-2, and a microsatellite marker inside the gene. Sequencing of a fragment of the gene revealed several SNPs. Two novel SNPs were found to be located in a miRNA (gga-mir-1556) within the ZO-2. MicroRNA-SNP and an exonic synonymous SNP were genotyped in the populations and showed significant association to blood and meat spots. A good congruence between the experimental population and commercial breeds was achieved both in QTL locations and in association results. As a conclusion, ZO-2 and gga-mir-1556 remained candidates for having a role in susceptibility to blood and meat spot defects across populations. This is the first report of QTL affecting blood and meat spot frequency in chicken eggs, albeit the effect explained only 2 % of the phenotypic variance.
Fishy taint is a disorder, which is a characteristic of brown layer lines. Marker-trait association analyses of pooled samples indicated that egg-taint and the FMO3 gene map to chicken chromosome 8 and that the variation found by sequencing in the chicken FMO3 gene was associated with the TMA content of the egg. The missense mutation in the FMO3 changes an evolutionary, highly conserved amino acid within the FMO-characteristic motif (FATGY).
In conclusion, several QTL regions affecting egg quality traits were successfully detected. Some of the QTL findings, such as albumen quality, remained at the level of wide chromosomal regions. For some QTL, a putative causative gene was indicated: miRNA gga-mir-1556 and/or its host gene ZO-2 might have a role in susceptibility to blood and meat spot defects across populations. Nonetheless, fishy taint in chicken eggs was found to be caused with a substitution within a conserved motif of the FMO3 gene. This variation has been used in a breeding program to eliminate fishy-taint defects from commercial egg layer lines.
Objective The objective of this thesis was to map loci affecting economically important egg quality traits in chickens and to increase knowledge of the molecular genetics of these complex traits. The aim was to find markers linked to the egg quality traits, and finally unravel the variation in the genes underlying the phenotypic variation of internal egg quality. QTL mapping methodology was used to identify chromosomal regions affecting various production and egg quality traits (I, III, IV). Three internal egg quality traits were selected for fine-mapping (II, III, IV). Some of the results were verified in independent mapping populations and present-day commercial lines (III, IV). The ultimate objective was to find markers to be applied in commercial selection programs.


EPrint Type:Thesis
Keywords:chicken, egg quality, QTL, gene mapping, gene and marker assisted selection, albumen quality, blood and meat spots, fishy taint, FMO3
Subjects: Animal husbandry
Research affiliation: Finland > MTT Agrifood Research
Related Links:http://www.mtt.fi/english
Deposited By: Koistinen, Riitta
ID Code:18183
Deposited On:28 Dec 2010 11:49
Last Modified:28 Dec 2010 11:49
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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