Fogelholm J, Henriksen R, Höglund A, Huq N, Johnsson M, Lenz R, Jensen P, Wright D
Sci Rep 10 (1) 1161 [2020-01-24; online 2020-01-24]
Plumage colouration in birds is important for a plethora of reasons, ranging from camouflage, sexual signalling, and species recognition. The genes underlying colour variation have been vital in understanding how genes can affect a phenotype. Multiple genes have been identified that affect plumage variation, but research has principally focused on major-effect genes (such as those causing albinism, barring, and the like), rather than the smaller effect modifier loci that more subtly influence colour. By utilising a domestic × wild advanced intercross with a combination of classical QTL mapping of red colouration as a quantitative trait and a targeted genetical genomics approach, we have identified five separate candidate genes (CREBBP, WDR24, ARL8A, PHLDA3, LAD1) that putatively influence quantitative variation in red-brown colouration in chickens. By treating colour as a quantitative rather than qualitative trait, we have identified both QTL and genes of small effect. Such small effect loci are potentially far more prevalent in wild populations, and can therefore potentially be highly relevant to colour evolution.