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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Sexual dimorphism in livestock species selected for economically important traits1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 94 No. 9, p. 3684-3692
    Received: Feb 18, 2016
    Accepted: June 29, 2016
    Published: September 1, 2016

    2 Corresponding author(s): danilino@uga.edu

  1. E. M. M. van der Heide*,
  2. D. A. L. Lourenco 2,
  3. C. Y. Chen,
  4. W. O. Herring,
  5. R. L. Sapp§,
  6. D. W. Moser#,
  7. S. Tsuruta,
  8. Y. Masuda,
  9. B. J. Ducro* and
  10. I. Misztal
  1. * Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands, 6708 PB
     Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens 30602
     Genus PIC, Hendersonville, TN 37075
    § Cobb-Vantress Inc., Siloam Springs, AR 72761
    # Angus Genetics Inc., St. Joseph, MO 64506


Most breeding companies evaluate economically important traits in males and females as a single trait, assuming genetic correlation of 1 between phenotypes measured in both sexes. This assumption may not be true because genes may be differently expressed in males and females. We estimated genetic correlations between males and females for growth and efficiency traits in broiler chickens, growth traits in American Angus beef cattle, and birth weight and preweaning mortality in purebred pigs; therefore, each trait was treated differently in males and females. Variance components were estimated in single- and multiple-trait models, jointly or separated into both sexes. Furthermore, we calculated traditional and genomic evaluations, and we correlated EBV or genomic EBV (GEBV) from joint and separate evaluations for males and females. For broiler chickens, genetic correlations ranged from 0.86 to 0.94. For Angus cattle, genetic correlations ranged from 0.86 to 0.98 for early growth traits and were less, ranging from 0.68 to 0.84, for postweaning gain. In pigs, genetic correlations ranged from 0.98 to 0.99 for birth weight and from 0.71 to 0.73 for preweaning mortality. For some models in all 3 animal species, the joint and separate analyses had different heritabilities. Despite differences in heritability, the correlations within the sex-specific trait EBV and between the sex-specific and the joint trait EBV were very strong, regardless of the model or inclusion of genomic information. Males and females differed for traits measured late in the animal’s life; however, strong traditional EBV correlations and also GEBV correlations indicate that considering the traits equal in males and females may have no negative impact on selection.

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