Polymorphisms in the Chicken Growth Differentiation Factor 9 Gene Associated with Reproductive Traits
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The aim of the study was to investigate GDF9 gene polymorphisms and their association with reproductive traits in chicken using DNA sequencing. A total of 279 Dongxiang blue-shelled (DX) chickens and 232 Luhua (LH) chickens were used for validation. We detected 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs): nine SNPs were previously unreported in chicken, two were missense mutations, and only three exhibited significant associations with reproductive traits. G.17156387C>T was significantly associated with age at first egg (AFE) and weight of first egg (WFE) in both breeds. Birds carrying the CC genotype exhibited higher AFE and WFE values than those with the TT genotype. The SNP g.17156427A>G exhibited an association with egg weight at 300 days of age (EWTA) in DX but not in LH chickens. The SNP g.17156703A>C affected the AFE and EN (total number of eggs at 300 days of age) in DX chickens. In addition, certain diplotypes significantly affected AFE, BWTA (body weight at 300 days of age), and EN in both breeds. RT-PCR results showed that the GDF9 gene was highly expressed in stroma with cortical follicles (STR) and prehierarchal follicles. These results provided further evidence that the GDF9 gene is involved in determining reproductive traits in chicken.