Maternal behaviour is vital for the offspring survival. In animal production, improvement of maternal behaviour is becoming increasingly important in order to improve lamb survival particularly in extensive systems. Breed differences in maternal behaviour and genetic variation within breed have previously been described in several farm species. However, any study has investigated genetic loci underlying such behaviour in sheep. The aim of the study was to identify QTL associated with maternal behaviours in sheep using ovineSNP50 beadchip. Ewes reared outside were genotyped (n=470) and individually phenotyped after lambing for maternal behaviours in two standardized behavioural tests. QTL detection was performed by linkage, association and joint linkage and association analyses. Six main QTL regions identified on chromosomes 4, 13, 16, 21, and 23 showed significant associations with vocalizations. Four main QTL regions identified on chromosomes 4, 9, and 23 showed significant associations with maternal behaviour scores. Some of these QTLs contain interesting candidate genes, previously described to be associated with behaviours, which may explain a substantial amount of the genetic variation in maternal behaviours in sheep. Keywords: QTL, candidate genes, maternal behaviour score, maternal reactivity, vocalisations, locomotion

Dominique Hazard, Tiphaine Macé, Didier Foulquié, Eric Delval, Sébastien Douls, Fabien Carrière, Julien Pradel, Carole Moreno, Alain Boissy

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Biology - Behaviour, , 46, 2018
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