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Domestication, selection, behaviour and welfare of animals - genetic mechanisms for rapid responses

By P. Jensen

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Increased production has been the major goal of animal breeding for many decades, and the correlated side-effects have grown to become a major issue in animal welfare. In this paper, the main genetic mechanisms in which such side-effects may occur are reviewed with examples from our own research in chickens. Pleiotropy, linkage and regulatory pathways are the most important means by which a number of traits may be affected simultaneously by the same selection pressure. Pleiotropy can be exemplified by the gene PMEL17 which causes a lack of black pigmentation in chickens and, simultaneously, predisposes them to become the victims of feather pecking. Linkage is a probable reason why a limited region on chicken chromosome 1 affects many different traits, such as growth, reproduction and fear-related behaviour. Gene regulation is affected by stress, and may cause modifications in behaviour and phenotype which are transferred from parents to offspring by means of epigenetic modifications. Insights into phenomena, such as these, may increase our understanding not only of how artificial selection works, but also evolution at large.

Date 2010
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 19
Issue Supplement
Pages 7-9
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address IFM Biology, Division of Zoology, Linkoping University, SE58183 Linkoping, Sweden.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Adverse effects
  2. Adverse reactions
  3. Animal genetics
  4. Animal reproduction
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal science
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Birds
  9. Breeding
  10. Chickens
  11. Chromosomes
  12. Domestic animals
  13. Domestication
  14. Evolution
  15. Feathers
  16. Fowls
  17. Gene expression
  18. Genes
  19. Genetic regulation
  20. Genetics
  21. Livestock
  22. parents
  23. pecking
  24. peer-reviewed
  25. phenotypes
  26. pigmentation
  27. Poultry
  28. progeny
  29. regulations
  30. Reproduction
  31. traits
  1. peer-reviewed