An intercross population study reveals genes associated with body size and plumage color in ducks


Comparative population genomics offers an opportunity to discover the signatures of artificial selection during animal domestication, however, their function cannot be directly revealed. We discover the selection signatures using genome-wide comparisons among 40 mallards, 36 indigenous-breed ducks, and 30 Pekin ducks. Then, the phenotypes are fine-mapped based on resequencing of 1026 ducks from an F2 segregating population generated by wild × domestic crosses. Interestingly, the two key economic traits of Pekin duck are associated with two selective sweeps with fixed mutations. A novel intronic insertion most possibly leads to a splicing change in MITF accounted for white duck down feathers. And a putative long-distance regulatory mutation causes continuous expression of the IGF2BP1 gene after birth which increases body size by 15% and feed efficiency by 6%. This study provides new insights into genotype-phenotype associations in animal research and constitutes a promising resource on economically important genes in fowl.

Publication Title

Nature Communications