Background: Despite the health concerns and nutritional importance of fatty acids, there is a relative paucity of studies in the literature that report genetic or genomic parameters, especially in the case of sheep populations. To investigate the genetic architecture of fatty acid composition of sheep, we conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and estimated genomic heritabilities for fatty acid profile in Longissimus dorsi muscle of 216 male sheep.
Results: Genomic heritability estimates for fatty acid content ranged from 0.25 to 0.46, indicating that substantial genetic variation exists for the evaluated traits. Therefore, it is possible to alter fatty acid profiles through selection. Twenty-seven genomic regions of 10 adjacent SNPs associated with fatty acids composition were identified on chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, each explaining ≥0.30% of the additive genetic variance. Twenty-three genes supporting the understanding of genetic mechanisms of fat composition in sheep were identified in these regions, such as DGAT2, TRHDE, TPH2, ME1, C6, C7, UBE3D, PARP14, and MRPS30.
Conclusions: Estimates of genomic heritabilities and elucidating important genomic regions can contribute to a better understanding of the genetic control of fatty acid deposition and improve the selection strategies to enhance meat quality and health attributes.
Keywords: Candidate genes; Fatty acid composition; Ovine; Variance components.