Imputation to whole-genome sequence and its use in genome-wide association studies for pork colour traits in crossbred and purebred pigs

Front Genet. 2022 Oct 11:13:1022681. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2022.1022681. eCollection 2022.


Imputed whole-genome sequence (WGS) has been proposed to improve genome-wide association studies (GWAS), since all causative mutations responsible for phenotypic variation are expected to be present in the data. This approach was applied on a large number of purebred (PB) and crossbred (CB) pigs for 18 pork color traits to evaluate the impact of using imputed WGS relative to medium-density marker panels. The traits included Minolta A*, B*, and L* for fat (FCOL), quadriceps femoris muscle (QFCOL), thawed loin muscle (TMCOL), fresh ham gluteus medius (GMCOL), ham iliopsoas muscle (ICOL), and longissimus dorsi muscle on the fresh loin (FMCOL). Sequence variants were imputed from a medium-density marker panel (61K for CBs and 50K for PBs) in all genotyped pigs using BeagleV5.0. We obtained high imputation accuracy (average of 0.97 for PBs and 0.91 for CBs). GWAS were conducted for three datasets: 954 CBs and 891 PBs, and the combined CBs and PBs. For most traits, no significant associations were detected, regardless of panel density or population type. However, quantitative trait loci (QTL) regions were only found for a few traits including TMCOL Minolta A* and GMCOL Minolta B* (CBs), FMCOL Minolta B*, FMCOL Minolta L*, and ICOL Minolta B* (PBs) and FMCOL Minolta A*, FMCOL Minolta B*, GMCOL Minolta B*, and ICOL Minolta B* (Combined dataset). More QTL regions were identified with WGS (n = 58) relative to medium-density marker panels (n = 22). Most of the QTL were linked to previously reported QTLs or candidate genes that have been previously reported to be associated with meat quality, pH and pork color; e.g., VIL1, PRKAG3, TTLL4, and SLC11A1, USP37. CTDSP1 gene on SSC15 has not been previously associated with meat color traits in pigs. The findings suggest any added value of WGS was only for detecting novel QTL regions when the sample size is sufficiently large as with the Combined dataset in this study. The percentage of phenotypic variance explained by the most significant SNPs also increased with WGS compared with medium-density panels. The results provide additional insights into identification of a number of candidate regions and genes for pork color traits in different pig populations.

Keywords: GWAS; QTL regions; crossbred pigs; imputed whole-genome sequence; pork color traits; purebred pigs.