Natural antibodies (NAb) are an important component of the first line of immune defense. Selective breeding for enhanced NAb levels in chickens may improve general disease resistance. It is unknown what the consequences of selection for NAb will be on the productive performance of laying hens. In this paper we describe the genetic relations between NAb titers binding keyhole limpet hemocyanin at 19 wk age and production traits in a white purebred leghorn chicken line observed in several time periods. A linear animal model was used to estimate (co)variance components, heritabilities, and correlations. Negative genetic correlations were found between egg weight and NAb titers, and between egg breaking strength and NAb titers. Positive genetic correlations were found between the feed conversion ratio (consumed feed/egg mass produced) and NAb titers, and egg production and NAb titers. Negative phenotypic correlations were found between body weight and NAb titers, between egg weight and NAb titers, and between egg breaking strength and NAb titers. Positive phenotypic correlations were found between egg production and NAb titers, and feed conversion ratio and NAb titers. In general, phenotypic correlations were more often significant, but less pronounced than genetic correlations. Other production traits were not found to be significant related to NAb titers. These findings suggest that there is a genetic tradeoff between levels of immunity and some production traits, although the underlying mechanism(s) remain(s) unclear. The results suggest possible consequences for production efficiency as a result of selective breeding for improved general disease resistance by natural antibodies.
- sheep erythrocytes
- laying hens
- selection experiments
van der Klein, S. A. S., Berghof, T. V. L., Arts, J. A. J., Parmentier, H. K., van der Poel, J. J., & Bovenhuis, H. (2015). Genetic relations between natural antibodies binding keyhole limpet hemocyanin and production traits in a purebred layer chicken line. Poultry Science, 94(5), 875-882. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps/pev052