An understanding of the genetic control of porcine female reproductive performance would offer the opportunity to utilize natural variation and improve selective breeding programs through marker-assisted selection. The Chinese Meishan is one of the most prolific pig breeds known, farrowing three to five more viable piglets per litter than the European Large White breed. This difference in prolificacy is attributed to the Meishan's superior prenatal survival levels. The present study utilized a three-generation cross in which the founder grandparental animals were purebred Meishan and Large White pigs in a scan for quantitative trait loci (QTL) on porcine chromosome 8 (SSC8) associated with reproductive performance. Reproductive traits, including number of corpora lutea (ovulation rate), teat number, litter size, and prenatal survival, were recorded for as many as 220 F2 females. Putative QTL for the related traits of litter size and prenatal survival were identified at the distal end of the long arm of SSC8. A physiological candidate gene, SPP1, was found to lie within the 95% confidence interval of these QTL. A suggestive QTL for teat number was revealed on the short arm of SSC8. The present study demonstrates, to our knowledge, the first independent confirmation of QTL for fecundity on SSC8, and these QTL regions provide a crucial starting point in the search for the causal genetic variants.
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