Genome-wide association studies for the number of teats and teat asymmetry patterns in Large White pigs

G. Moscatelli, S. Dall'Olio, S. Bovo, G. Schiavo, H. Kazemi, A. Ribani, P. Zambonelli, S. Tinarelli, M. Gallo, F. Bertolini, L. Fontanesi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleCommunication


The number of teats is a morphological trait that influences the mothering ability of the sows and thus their reproduction performances. In this study, we carried out GWASs for the total number of teats and other 12 related parameters in 821 Italian Large White heavy pigs. All pigs were genotyped with the Illumina PorcineSNP60 BeadChip array. For four investigated parameters (total number of teats, the number of teats of the left line, the number of teats of the right line and the maximum number of teats comparing the two sides), significant markers were identified on SSC7, in the region of the vertnin (VRTN) gene. Significant markers for the numbers of posterior teats and the absolute difference between anterior and posterior teat numbers were consistently identified on SSC6. The most significant SNP for these parameters was an intron variant in the TOX high mobility group box family member 3 (TOX3) gene. For the other four parameters (absolute difference between the two sides; anterior teats; the ratio between the posterior and the anterior number of teats; and the absence or the presence of extra teats) only suggestively significant markers were identified on several other chromosomes. This study further supported the role of the VRTN gene region in affecting the recorded variability of the number of teats in the Italian Large White pig population and identified a genomic region potentially affecting the biological mechanisms controlling the developmental programme of morphological features in pigs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Genetics
Number of pages6
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • GWAS
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism
  • Sus scrofa
  • TOX3
  • VRTN

Cite this

Moscatelli, G., Dall'Olio, S., Bovo, S., Schiavo, G., Kazemi, H., Ribani, A., Zambonelli, P., Tinarelli, S., Gallo, M., Bertolini, F., & Fontanesi, L. (Accepted/In press). Genome-wide association studies for the number of teats and teat asymmetry patterns in Large White pigs. Animal Genetics.