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Researchers Crack Late Puberty in Romney Study Flock

10 July 2014

NEW ZEALAND – A team of researchers has solved the genetic cause of delayed puberty in a flock of Romney ewes through genome sequencing.

Scientists at AgResearch New Zealand have discovered that ewes who reached puberty the latest in their study flock had inherited two copies of a variant gene.

Known as the Leptin receptor gene variant, the gene is responsible for controlling fat deposition and regulating appetite.

The receptor is known to be associated with puberty onset in mice, humans and cattle.

Science team leader Dr Sarah Edwards said: “We focussed our search on 60 genes known to be involved in reproductive function, as well as those involved in growth and body composition, because these are also related to puberty onset.”

“We found a strong association between age of puberty and a naturally occurring gene variant,” said lead researcher Dr Jenny Juengel.

“Those ewes who were the oldest when they reached puberty had inherited two copies of the leptin receptor gene variant. This was a new finding.”

But Dr Juengel added that more work is required before they can be ‘absolutely certain’ the variant is responsible for later puberty onset.

As it stands however, the current evidence is ‘compelling’.

TheSheepSite News Desk

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