Simultaneous mapping of epistatic QTL in chickens reveals clusters of QTL pairs with similar genetic effects on growth

Genet Res. 2004 Jun;83(3):197-209. doi: 10.1017/s0016672304006779.


We used simultaneous mapping of interacting quantitative trait locus (QTL) pairs to study various growth traits in a chicken F2 intercross. The method was shown to increase the number of detected QTLs by 30 % compared with a traditional method detecting QTLs by their marginal genetic effects. Epistasis was shown to be an important contributor to the genetic variance of growth, with the largest impact on early growth (before 6 weeks of age). There is also evidence for a discrete set of interacting loci involved in early growth, supporting the previous findings of different genetic regulation of early and late growth in chicken. The genotype-phenotype relationship was evaluated for all interacting QTL pairs and 17 of the 21 evaluated QTL pairs could be assigned to one of four clusters in which the pairs in a cluster have very similar genetic effects on growth. The genetic effects of the pairs indicate commonly occurring dominance-by-dominance, heterosis and multiplicative interactions. The results from this study clearly illustrate the increase in power obtained by using this novel method for simultaneous detection of epistatic QTL, and also how visualization of genotype-phenotype relationships for epistatic QTL pairs provides new insights to biological mechanisms underlying complex traits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Chickens / genetics*
  • Chickens / growth & development*
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Epistasis, Genetic*
  • Genotype
  • Linear Models
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Regression Analysis