Identification of recombination hotspots and quantitative trait loci for recombination rate in layer chickens

J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2019 Feb 26:10:20. doi: 10.1186/s40104-019-0332-y. eCollection 2019.


Background: The frequency of recombination events varies across the genome and between individuals, which may be related to some genomic features. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of recombination events and to identify QTL (quantitative trait loci) for recombination rate in two purebred layer chicken lines.

Methods: A total of 1200 white-egg layers (WL) were genotyped with 580 K SNPs and 5108 brown-egg layers (BL) were genotyped with 42 K SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). Recombination events were identified within half-sib families and both the number of recombination events and the recombination rate was calculated within each 0.5 Mb window of the genome. The 10% of windows with the highest recombination rate on each chromosome were considered to be recombination hotspots. A BayesB model was used separately for each line to identify genomic regions associated with the genome-wide number of recombination event per meiosis. Regions that explained more than 0.8% of genetic variance of recombination rate were considered to harbor QTL.

Results: Heritability of recombination rate was estimated at 0.17 in WL and 0.16 in BL. On average, 11.3 and 23.2 recombination events were detected per individual across the genome in 1301 and 9292 meioses in the WL and BL, respectively. The estimated recombination rates differed significantly between the lines, which could be due to differences in inbreeding levels, and haplotype structures. Dams had about 5% to 20% higher recombination rates per meiosis than sires in both lines. Recombination rate per 0.5 Mb window had a strong negative correlation with chromosome size and a strong positive correlation with GC content and with CpG island density across the genome in both lines. Different QTL for recombination rate were identified in the two lines. There were 190 and 199 non-overlapping recombination hotspots detected in WL and BL respectively, 28 of which were common to both lines.

Conclusions: Differences in the recombination rates, hotspot locations, and QTL regions associated with genome-wide recombination were observed between lines, indicating the breed-specific feature of detected recombination events and the control of recombination events is a complex polygenic trait.

Keywords: Layer chicken; QTL; Recombination; SNP.