The Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) is both an animal model in biology and a commercial bird for egg and meat production. Modern research developments with this bird, however, have been slowed down by the limited information that is available on the genetics of the Japanese quail. Recently, quail genetic maps with microsatellites and AFLP have been produced which open the way to comparative works with the chicken (Gallus gallus), and to QTL detection for a variety of traits. The purpose of this work was to detect for the first time QTL for commercial traits and for more basic characters in an F2 experiment with 434 female quail, and to compare the nature and the position of the detected QTL with those from the first chicken genome scans carried out during the last few years.
Genome-wide significant or suggestive QTL were found for clutch length, body weight and feed intake on CJA01, age at first egg and egg number on CJA06, and eggshell weight and residual feed intake on CJA20, with possible pleiotropy for the QTL affecting body weight and feed intake, and egg number and age at first egg. A suggestive QTL was found for tonic immobility on CJA01, and chromosome-wide significant QTL for body temperature were detected on CJA01 and CJA03. Other chromosome-wide significant QTL were found on CJA02, CJA05, CJA09 and CJA14. Parent-of-origin effects were found for QTL for body weight and feed intake on CJA01.
Despite its limited length, the first quail microsatellite map was useful to detect new QTL for rarely reported traits, like residual feed intake, and to help establish some correspondence between the QTL for feed intake, body weight and tonic immobility detected in the present work and those reported on GGA01 in the chicken. Further comparative work is now possible in order to better estimate and understand the genetic similarities and differences of these two Phasianidae species.