Resequencing of a Pekin duck breeding population provides insights into the genomic response to short-term artificial selection


Background: Short-term, intense artificial selection drives fast phenotypic changes in domestic animals and leaves imprints on their genomes. However, the genetic basis of this selection response is poorly understood. To better address this, we employed the Pekin duck Z2 pure line, in which the breast muscle weight was increased nearly 3-fold after 10 generations of breeding. We de novo assembled a high-quality reference genome of a female Pekin duck of this line (GCA_003850225.1) and identified 8.60 million genetic variants in 119 individuals among 10 generations of the breeding population. Results: We identified 53 selected regions between the first and tenth generations, and 93.8% of the identified variations were enriched in regulatory and noncoding regions. Integrating the selection signatures and genome-wide association approach, we found that 2 regions covering 0.36 Mb containing UTP25 and FBRSL1 were most likely to contribute to breast muscle weight improvement. The major allele frequencies of these 2 loci increased gradually with each generation following the same trend. Additionally, we found that a copy number variation region containing the entire EXOC4 gene could explain 1.9% of the variance in breast muscle weight, indicating that the nervous system may play a role in economic trait improvement. Conclusions: Our study not only provides insights into genomic dynamics under intense artificial selection but also provides resources for genomics-enabled improvements in duck breeding.

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