G3 (Bethesda) 12 (9) jkac174 [2022-08-25; online 2022-07-09]
How sexual selection affects the genome ultimately relies on the strength and type of selection, and the genetic architecture of the involved traits. While associating genotype with phenotype often utilizes standard trait morphology, trait representations in morphospace using geometric morphometric approaches receive less focus in this regard. Here, we identify genetic associations to a sexual ornament, the comb, in the chicken system (Gallus gallus). Our approach combined genome-wide genotype and gene expression data (>30k genes) with different aspects of comb morphology in an advanced intercross line (F8) generated by crossing a wild-type Red Junglefowl with a domestic breed of chicken (White Leghorn). In total, 10 quantitative trait loci were found associated to various aspects of comb shape and size, while 1,184 expression QTL were found associated to gene expression patterns, among which 98 had overlapping confidence intervals with those of quantitative trait loci. Our results highlight both known genomic regions confirming previous records of a large effect quantitative trait loci associated to comb size, and novel quantitative trait loci associated to comb shape. Genes were considered candidates affecting comb morphology if they were found within both confidence intervals of the underlying quantitative trait loci and eQTL. Overlaps between quantitative trait loci and genome-wide selective sweeps identified in a previous study revealed that only loci associated to comb size may be experiencing on-going selection under domestication.