Genomic signatures of 60 years of bidirectional selection for 8-week body weight in chickens

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Sixty years, constituting 60 generations, have passed since the founding of the Virginia body weight lines, an experimental population of White Plymouth Rock chickens. Using a stringent breeding scheme for divergent 8-week body weight, the lines, which originated from a common founder population, have responded to bidirectional selection with an approximate 15-fold difference in the selected trait. They provide a model system to study the genetics of complex traits in general and the influences of artificial selection on quantitative genetic architectures in particular. As we reflect on the 60th anniversary of the initiation of the Virginia body weight lines, there is opportunity to discuss the findings obtained using different analytical and experimental genetic and genomic strategies and integrate them with a recent pooled genome resequencing dataset. Hundreds of regions across the genome show differentiation between the 2 lines, reinforcing previous findings that response to selection relied on standing variation across many genes and giving insights into the haplotype complexity underlying regions associated with body weight.

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