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Open Access Research article

The identification of 14 new genes for meat quality traits in chicken using a genome-wide association study

Yanfa Sun13, Guiping Zhao12, Ranran Liu12, Maiqing Zheng12, Yaodong Hu1, Dan Wu1, Lei Zhang1, Peng Li12 and Jie Wen123*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100193, P.R. China

2 State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Beijing 100193, P.R. China

3 College of Animal Science and Technology, Yangzhou University, YangzhouJiangsu 225009, P.R. China

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:458  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-458

Published: 8 July 2013



Meat quality is an important economic trait in chickens. To identify loci and genes associated with meat quality traits, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of F2 populations derived from a local Chinese breed (Beijing-You chickens) and a commercial fast-growing broiler line (Cobb-Vantress).


In the present study, 33 association signals were detected from the compressed mixed linear model (MLM) for 10 meat quality traits: dry matter in breast muscle (DMBr), dry matter in thigh muscle (DMTh), intramuscular fat content in breast muscle (IMFBr), meat color lightness (L*) and yellowness (b*) values, skin color L*, a* (redness) and b* values, abdominal fat weight (AbFW) and AbFW as a percentage of eviscerated weight (AbFP). Relative expressions of candidate genes identified near significant signals were compared using samples of chickens with High and Low phenotypic values. A total of 14 genes associated with IMFBr, meat color L*, AbFW, and AbFP, were differentially expressed between the High and Low phenotypic groups. These genes are, therefore, prospective candidate genes for meat quality traits: protein tyrosine kinase (TYRO3) and microsomal glutathione S-transferase 1 (MGST1) for IMFBr; collagen, type I, alpha 2 (COL1A2) for meat color L*; and RET proto-oncogene (RET), natriuretic peptide B (NPPB) and sterol regulatory element binding transcription factor 1 (SREBF1) for the abdominal fat (AbF) traits.


Based on the association signals and differential expression of nearby genes, 14 candidate loci and genes for IMFBr, meat L* and b* values, and AbF are identified. The results provide new insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying meat quality traits in chickens.

Chicken; GWAS; Meat quality traits; Abdominal fat; Candidate genes