Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

November 2004


Published in Mammalian Genome: Genes and Phenotypes.


Using lines of mice having undergone long-term selection for high and low growth, a large-sample (n ≈ 1000 F2) experiment was conducted to gain further understanding of the genetic architecture of complex polygenic traits. Composite interval mapping on data from 10-week-old F2 females (n = 439) detected 15 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on 5 chromosomes that influence reproduction traits characterized at day 16 of gestation. These QTL are broadly categorized into two groups: those where effects on the number of live fetuses (LF) were accompanied by parallel effects on the number of dead fetuses (DF), and those free of such undesirable effects. QTL for ovulation rate (OR) did not overlap with QTL for litter size, potentially indicating the importance of uterine capacity. Large dominance effects were identified for most QTL detected, and overdominance was also present. The QTL of largest effects were detected in regions of Chromosome 2, where large QTL effects for growth and fatness have also been found and where corroborating evidence from other studies exists. Considerable overlap between locations of QTL for reproductive traits and for growth traits corresponds well with the positive correlations usually observed among these sets of phenotypes. Some support for the relevance of QTL • genetic background interactions in reproduction was detected. Traits with low heritability demand considerably larger sample sizes to achieve effective power of QTL detection. This is unfortunate as traits with low heritability are among those that could most benefit from QTL-complemented breeding and selection strategies in food animal production.