U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Genome-wide association and identification of candidate genes for age at puberty in swine

Dan J. Nonneman, James F. Schneider, Clay A. Lents, Ralph T. Wiedmann, Jeffrey L. Vallet, Gary A. Rohrer
BMC genetics 2016 v.17 no.1 pp. 50
Bayesian theory, anestrus, boars, estrus, estrus detection, farrowing, genes, genetic markers, genetic variance, genotyping, gilts, herds, loci, longevity, marker-assisted selection, menarche, pork, puberty, quantitative trait loci, reproductive efficiency, single nucleotide polymorphism, somatotropin, sows
BACKGROUND: Reproductive efficiency has a great impact on the economic success of pork production. Gilts comprise a significant portion of breeding females and gilts that reach puberty earlier tend to stay in the herd longer and be more productive. About 10 to 30 % of gilts never farrow a litter and the most common reasons for removal are anestrus and failure to conceive. Puberty in pigs is usually defined as the female’s first estrus in the presence of boar stimulation. Genetic markers associated with age at puberty will allow for selection on age at puberty and traits correlated with sow lifetime productivity. RESULTS: Gilts (n = 759) with estrus detection measurements ranging from 140–240 days were genotyped using the Illumina PorcineSNP60 BeadChip and SNP were tested for significant effects with a Bayesian approach using GENSEL software. Of the available 8111 five-marker windows, 27 were found to be statistically significant with a comparison-wise error of P < 0.01. Ten QTL were highly significant at P < 0.005 level. Two QTL, one on SSC12 at 15 Mb and the other on SSC7 at 75 Mb, explained 16.87 % of the total genetic variance. The most compelling candidate genes in these two regions included the growth hormone gene (GH1) on SSC12 and PRKD1 on SSC7. Several loci confirmed associations previously identified for age at puberty in the pig and loci for age at menarche in humans. CONCLUSIONS: Several of the loci identified in this study have a physiological role for the onset of puberty and a genetic basis for sexual maturation in humans. Understanding the genes involved in regulation of the onset of puberty would allow for the improvement of reproductive efficiency in swine. Because age at puberty is a predictive factor for sow longevity and lifetime productivity, but not routinely measured or selected for in commercial herds, it would be beneficial to be able to use genomic or marker-assisted selection to improve these traits.