Selective breeding of meat pigeons is primarily based on growth traits, especially muscle mass (MM). Identification of functional genes and molecular markers of growth and slaughter traits through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) will help to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms and provide a theoretical basis for the selective breeding of meat pigeons. The phenotypic data of body weight (BW) and body size (BS) of 556 meat pigeons at 52 and 80weeks of age were collected. In total, 160434 high-quality single nucleotide polymorphism sites were obtained by restriction site-associated DNA sequencing. The GWAS analysis revealed that MSTN, IGF2BP3 and NCAPG/LCORL were important candidate genes affecting the growth traits of meat pigeons. IGF2BP3 and NCAPG/LCORL were highly correlated to BW and BS, which are related to overall growth and development, while MSTN was associated with pectoral thickness and BW. Phenotypic association validation with the use of...

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