Genomics Symposium: Using genomic approaches to uncover sources of variation in age at puberty and reproductive longevity in sows

H. R. Wijesena, C. A. Lents, J. J. Riethoven, M. D. Trenhaile-Grannemann, J. F. Thorson, B. N. Keel, P. S. Miller, M. L. Spangler, S. D. Kachman, D. C. Ciobanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Genetic variants associated with traits such as age at puberty and litter size could provide insight into the underlying genetic sources of variation impacting sow reproductive longevity and productivity. Genomewide characterization and gene expression profiling were used using gilts from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln swine resource population (n = 1,644) to identify genetic variants associated with age at puberty and litter size traits. From all reproductive traits studied, the largest fraction of phenotypic variation explained by the Porcine SNP60 BeadArray was for age at puberty (27.3%). In an evaluation data set, the predictive ability of all SNP from high-ranked 1-Mb windows (1 to 50%), based on genetic variance explained in training, was greater (12.3 to 36.8%) compared with the most informative SNP from these windows (6.5 to 23.7%). In the integrated data set (n = 1,644), the top 1% of the 1-Mb windows explained 6.7% of the genetic variation of age at puberty. One of the high-ranked windows detected (SSC2, 12–12.9 Mb) showed pleiotropic features, affecting both age at puberty and litter size traits. The RNA sequencing of the hypothalami arcuate nucleus uncovered 17 differentially expressed genes (adjusted P < 0.05) between gilts that became pubertal early (<155 d of age) and late (>180 d of age). Twelve of the differentially expressed genes are upregulated in the late pubertal gilts. One of these genes is involved in energy homeostasis (FFAR2), a function in which the arcuate nucleus plays an important contribution, linking nutrition with reproductive development. Energy restriction during the gilt development period delayed age at puberty by 7 d but increased the probability of a sow to produce up to 3 parities (P < 0.05). Identification of pleotropic functional polymorphisms may improve accuracy of genomic prediction while facilitating a reduction in sow replacement rates and addressing welfare concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4196-4205
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Hypothalamus
  • Litter size
  • Pleotropic
  • Puberty
  • Reproductive longevity
  • Swine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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