The FecB (Booroola) gene and implications for the Turkish sheep industry

Adkinson A., Adkinson R. W.

TURKISH JOURNAL OF VETERINARY & ANIMAL SCIENCES, vol.37, no.6, pp.621-624, 2013 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Most traits of economic importance in livestock are quantitative traits. This means that they are influenced by a large number of genes, each contributing a small effect, scattered across the genome. Selection for these genes requires specialized methods such as progeny testing or genomic selection. The FecB or Booroola gene is an exception. Presence of this single gene increases ovulation and lambing rates dramatically with ewes producing 2, 3, or even more lambs per parturition. The FecB gene was first observed indirectly in Australian Merino sheep by Dr Helen Newton Turner. It was later determined that this allele was a single amino acid mutation in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 1B (BMPR1B) gene on chromosome 6 and it was designated FecB, where Fec stands for the fecundity locus and B for the Booroola gene. FecB probably originated in India and has now spread to 48 breeds and composites in 19 countries. Sheep production in Turkey has been declining over the past 20 years for many reasons, but the demand for sheep products remains high. Increased lambing rates could increase sheep production in Turkey, but changes in traditional practices of extensive, low input, and low output sheep production would probably be required.