, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 121-130

Major Growth QTLs in Fowl Are Related to Fearful Behavior: Possible Genetic Links Between Fear Responses and Production Traits in a Red Junglefowl × White Leghorn Intercross

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Abstract

The aim of this work was to study fear responses and their relation to production traits in red junglefowl (Gallus gallus spp.), White Leghorn (Gallus domesticus), and their F2-progeny. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses were performed for behavioral traits to gain information about possible genetic links between fear-related behaviors and production. Four behavioral tests were performed that induce different levels of acute fear (open field [OF], exposure to a novel object, tonic immobility, and restraint). Production traits, that is, egg production, sexual maturity (in females), food intake, and growth, were measured individually. A genome scan using 105 microsatellite markers was carried out to identify QTLs controlling the traits studied. In the OF and novel object tests (NO), Leghorns showed less fear behavior than junglefowl, whereas junglefowl behaved less fearfully in the tonic immobility test (TI) and were more active in the restraint test. In the F2 progeny, only weak phenotypic associations were found between production traits and fear behavior. A significant QTL for TI duration was found on chromosome 1 that coincided with a QTL for egg weight and growth in the same animals. Another QTL for NO in males coincided with another major growth QTL. These two known growth QTLs affected a wide range of reactions in different tests. Several other significant and suggestive QTLs for behavioral traits related to fear were found. These QTLs did not coincide with QTLs for production traits, indicating that these fear variables may not be genetically linked to the production traits we measured here. The results show that loci affecting important production traits are located in the same chromosomal region as loci affecting different fear-related behaviors.