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Improvement of metric traits through specific genetic loci

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2010

Charles Smith
A.R.C. Animal Breeding Research Organisation, Edinburgh 9
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Known genetic loci that affect metric traits may be useful in livestock improvement. Their value depends on the proportion (R) of the total additive genetic variation due to the known loci relative to the heritability of the trait concerned and on the form of selection practised. When normal selection is effective, further information on known loci can add only a little to the rate of improvement. But if normal selection is not very effective, as for characters of low heritability, or if indirect selection on relatives must be used (as for sex-limited or carcass traits) then known loci may add significantly to the rate of improvement possible.

Sampling errors in the estimated effects and in the proportion (R) may cause selection effort to be misdirected and may even lead to losses rather than gains in improvement. Such errors are most likely to occur when the heritability of the character is low.

Reports on several loci with large effects in the various farm species have been summarised, but the evidence is often inconsistent and contradictory. At present, there appear to be no loci that could be used with confidence in the improvement of economic traits in farm animals.

Research Article
Copyright © British Society of Animal Science 1967

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