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Partitioning Average and Heterotic Components of Direct and Maternal Genetic Effects on Growth in Mice Using Crossfostering Techniques

The Genetics Society of America
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Crossfostering was performed using lines selected for increased 6-week body weight (H6) and increased 3-to 6-week postweaning gain (M16) and their reciprocal F1 crosses as nurse dams in the selected crossfostering group, and base population controls (C2, ICR) and their reciprocal F1 crosses in the control group. The offspring suckled were H6, M16 and F2 crosses in the selected group, and C2, ICR and their F2 crosses in the control group. Measurements taken on the individual offspring were body weights at birth (WB) and at 12, 21, 31, 42, and 63 days (W12, W21, W31, W42 and W63, respectively) and weight gains between adjacent ages (GB-12, G12–21, G21–31, G31–42 and G42–63, respectively). Least squares constants fitted to populations of genetic and nurse dams were used to calculate specific linear contrasts. Correlated responses to selection in average direct genetic effects were significant and positive for all traits examined in both H6 and M16, while the correlated responses in average maternal genetic effects were negative in M16 and negligible in H6. Selection response was primarily due to average direct genetic effects while the contribution of average maternal genetic effects was of secondary importance. The response in average direct genetic effects was smaller in M16 than in H6 through weaning (WB, W12 and W21), but was larger in M16 for postweaning weights (W31, W42 and W63). The correlated responses in average maternal genetic effects were consistently smaller in M16 than in H6. Direct heterosis was significant for all traits except for G12–21 and G42–63 in the control group, whereas maternal heterosis was significant for weight gains at early ages and for body weights. Direct heterosis tended to be larger than maternal heterosis in both selected and control crosses. Percent direct heterosis for body weight was larger in the selected crosses relative to the control crosses through 31 days of age, but the trend was reversed by 63 days. Percent maternal heterosis was consistently larger in the selected crosses.

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