Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

February 2001


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2001. 79:623–633. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


The objective of this research was to identify chromosomal regions harboring QTL affecting reproduction in pigs. A three-generation resource population was developed by crossing low-indexing pigs from a randomly selected control line (C) with high-indexing pigs of a line selected for increased index of ovulation rate and embryonic survival (I). Differences between Lines I and C at Generation 10 were 6.7 ova and 3.3 fetuses at 50 d of gestation and 3.1 fully formed and 1.6 live pigs at birth. Phenotypic data were collected on F2 females, born in three replicates, for ovulation rate (n = 423), age at puberty (n = 295), litter size (n = 370), and number of nipples (n = 428). Litter-size data included number of fully formed, live, stillborn, and mummified pigs. Grandparent, F1, and F2 animals were genotyped for 151 microsatellite markers distributed across all 18 autosomes and the X chromosome. Genotypic data were available on 423 F2 females. Average spacing between markers was 19.3 Kosambi centimorgans. Calculations of logarithms of odds (LOD) scores were by least squares, and fixed effects for siredam combination and replicate were included in the models. Genome-wide significance level thresholds of 5% and 10% were calculated using a permutation approach. There was evidence (P< 0.05) for QTL affecting ovulation rate on SSC9, age at puberty on SSC7 and SSC8, number of nipples on SSC8 and SSC11, number of stillborn pigs on SSC5 and SSC13, and number of fully formed pigs on SSC11. There was evidence (P < 0.10) for additional QTL affecting age at puberty on SSC7, SSC8, and SSC12, number born live on SSC11, and number of nipples on SSC1, SSC6, and SSC7. Litter size is lowly heritable and sex-limited. Therefore, accuracy of selection for litter size may be enhanced by marker-assisted selection. Ovulation rate and age at puberty are laborious to measure, and thus marker-assisted selection may provide a practical and efficient method of selection.