An intercross population study reveals genes associated with body size and plumage color in ducks
© By Eve Livesey/Getty
The mutations responsible for the white down feathers and larger bodies of the Pekin duck, an elite breed, have been identified, shedding light on how this breed was improved during domestication.
A team led by researchers at the Huazhong Agricultural University compared the genomes of 40 mallards, 36 indigenous Chinese ducks and 30 Pekin ducks.
Their analysis revealed that Pekin ducks had undergone two stages of selection during their breeding. The genomes carry evidence of a selective sweep that occurred during the domestication of indigenous breeds from mallards as well as a second selective sweep as breeders improved indigenous breeds to produce Pekin ducks.
Further analysis uncovered two genes linked with key traits of Pekin ducks—their white down feathers and their greater body size and feed efficiency.
These findings improve our understanding of what happens during domestication.
- Nature Communications 9, 2648 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04868-4