Open Access Open Badges Research article

Joint analysis of quantitative trait loci and major-effect causative mutations affecting meat quality and carcass composition traits in pigs

Pierre Cherel1, José Pires1, Jérôme Glénisson1, Denis Milan2, Nathalie Iannuccelli2, Frédéric Hérault34, Marie Damon56 and Pascale Le Roy34*

Author affiliations

1 Hendrix-Genetics RTC, 100 avenue Denis-Papin, St-Jean-de-Braye, France

2 INRA, UR444 Laboratoire de Génétique Cellulaire, 31320 Castanet-Tolosan, France

3 INRA, UMR0598, Génétique Animale, 35042 Rennes cedex, France

4 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR0598, Génétique Animale, 35042 Rennes cedex, France

5 INRA, UMR1079 SENAH, 35590 Saint-Gilles, France

6 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR1079 SENAH, 35590 Saint-Gilles, France

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Citation and License

BMC Genetics 2011, 12:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-12-76

Published: 29 August 2011



Detection of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting meat quality traits in pigs is crucial for the design of efficient marker-assisted selection programs and to initiate efforts toward the identification of underlying polymorphisms. The RYR1 and PRKAG3 causative mutations, originally identified from major effects on meat characteristics, can be used both as controls for an overall QTL detection strategy for diversely affected traits and as a scale for detected QTL effects. We report on a microsatellite-based QTL detection scan including all autosomes for pig meat quality and carcass composition traits in an F2 population of 1,000 females and barrows resulting from an intercross between a Pietrain and a Large White-Hampshire-Duroc synthetic sire line. Our QTL detection design allowed side-by-side comparison of the RYR1 and PRKAG3 mutation effects seen as QTLs when segregating at low frequencies (0.03-0.08), with independent QTL effects detected from most of the same population, excluding any carrier of these mutations.


Large QTL effects were detected in the absence of the RYR1 and PRKGA3 mutations, accounting for 12.7% of phenotypic variation in loin colour redness CIE-a* on SSC6 and 15% of phenotypic variation in glycolytic potential on SSC1. We detected 8 significant QTLs with effects on meat quality traits and 20 significant QTLs for carcass composition and growth traits under these conditions. In control analyses including mutation carriers, RYR1 and PRKAG3 mutations were detected as QTLs, from highly significant to suggestive, and explained 53% to 5% of the phenotypic variance according to the trait.


Our results suggest that part of muscle development and backfat thickness effects commonly attributed to the RYR1 mutation may be a consequence of linkage with independent QTLs affecting those traits. The proportion of variation explained by the most significant QTLs detected in this work is close to the influence of major-effect mutations on the least affected traits, but is one order of magnitude lower than effect on variance of traits primarily affected by these causative mutations. This suggests that uncovering physiological traits directly affected by genetic polymorphisms would be an appropriate approach for further characterization of QTLs.