DNA markers and crossbreeding scheme as means to select sires for heterosis in egg production of chickens

G. Atzmon, D. Cassuto, U. Lavi, A. Cahaner, G. Zeitlin, J. Hillel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genotypes for 24 microsatellite markers, dispersed across the chicken genome, were used to predict progeny performance and heterosis for egg production (number and mass) in 'layers' (egg-type chickens). These markers were used to evaluate genetic distance between each of 39 sires sampled from two-layer male-lines: Rhode Island Red (RIR) and White egg Leghorn (Leghorn), and a DNA pool of 30 randomly sampled females from a Brown-egg female line (Silver). Each sire was analysed for egg production across months in the laying period and cumulatively in each of three subperiods: onset (2 month), mid (9 month) and late (1 month). The average Reynolds' genetic distance between Leghorn sires and the Silver female line (θ = 0.6) was significantly higher than that between RIR sires and the Silver female line (θ = 0.5). Neither performance nor heterosis values in the RIR sire's daughters were associated with genetic distance values between sires and the Silver female line. On the other hand, performance as well as heterosis values of Leghorn's daughters were positively associated with genetic distance. This association was particularly evident in the mid-subperiod. If 25% of the most genetically distant Leghorn sires from the Silver female line had been selected in a single generation on the basis of DNA markers information only, average egg production of the crossbred daughters would have been improved by about nine eggs (3%). In principle, further improvement is possible if selection to increase genetic distance between the parental lines is carried on.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA pools
  • Genetic distance
  • Leghorn
  • Microsatellites
  • Rhode Island Red

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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