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A Genetic Analysis of Targeted Growth in Mice

The Genetics Society of America
Publication Date
  • Investigations
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Effects of normal growth regulation on components of phenotypic variance and covariance of body weight were examined in a cross-fostering study of growth between 2 and 10 wk of age in ICR randombred mice. Different early growth rates caused genetic, postnatal maternal and residual environmental variances to increase, but these variances were subsequently reduced by negative autocorrelation between early and later growth. Postnatal maternal variance continued to increase for about 1 wk after weaning but then decreased substantially. Genetic variance caused by preweaning growth followed a pattern of increase and decrease very similar to that of postnatal maternal variance, but this pattern was masked by new genetic variance. Normal growth regulation affects the magnitudes of genetic variances and serial autocorrelations. The timing of these changes suggests that regulation of cell numbers reduces variance near the end of exponential growth, but this may be obscured by subsequent increase in cell size. In contrast with earlier studies, we find that targeted growth reduces both genetically and environmentally determined differences among early growth trajectories. Final size may be determined by an antagonistic balance between early growth rate and age at initiation of puberty.

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