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Lagler, Dominik Karl; Hannemann, Elisabeth; Eck, Kim; Klawatsch, Jürgen; Seichter, Doris; Russ, Ingolf; Mendel, Christian; Lühken, Gesine; Krebs, Stefan; Blum, Helmut ORCID: 0000-0002-3994-2332; Upadhyay, Maulik; Medugorac, Ivica ORCID: 0000-0002-6891-3039 (2022): Fine-mapping and identification of candidate causal genes for tail length in the Merinolandschaf breed. Communications Biology, 5: 918. ISSN 2399-3642

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Docking the tails of lambs in long-tailed sheep breeds is a common practice worldwide. But this practice is associated with pain. Breeding for a shorter tail could offer an alternative. Therefore, this study aimed to analyze the natural tail length variation in the Merinolandschaf and to identify causal alleles for the short tail phenotype segregating within long-tailed breeds. We used SNP-based association analysis and haplotype-based mapping in 362 genotyped (Illumina OvineSNP50) and phenotyped Merinolandschaf lambs. Genome-wide significant regions were capture sequenced in 48 lambs and comparatively analyzed in various long and short-tailed sheep breeds and wild sheep subspecies. Here we show a SNP located in the first exon of HOXB13 and a SINE element located in the promotor of HOXB13 as promising candidates. These results enable more precise breeding towards shorter tails, improve animal welfare by amplification of ancestral alleles and contribute to a better understanding of differential embryonic development.

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