Selection signature analysis reveals genes underlying sheep milking performance
Sheep milk is the most important feed resource for newborn lambs and an important food resource for humans. Sheep milk production and ingredients are influenced by genetic and environmental factors. In this study, we implemented selection signature analysis using Illumina Ovine SNP50 BeadChip data of 78 meat Lacaune and 103 milk Lacaune sheep, which have similar genetic backgrounds, from the Sheep HapMap project to identify candidate genes related to ovine milk traits. Since different methods can detect different variation types and complement each other, we used a haplotype-based method (hapFLK) to implement selection signature analysis. The results revealed six selection signature regions showing signs of being selected (P<0.001): chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 6, 13 and 18. In addition, 38 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) related to sheep milk performance were identified in selection signature regions, which contain 334 candidate genes. Of those, SUCNR1 (succinate receptor 1) and PPARGC1A (PPARG coactivator 1 alpha) may be the most significant genes that affect sheep milking performance, which supply a significant indication for future studies to investigate candidate genes that play an important role in milk production and quality.