The comb is an important secondary sexual characteristic and comb growth traits, such as size and color of the comb, are widely used as indicators in chicken breeding programs. However, the genetic basis for these traits remains mostly unknown. It was found that the chondroadherin-like (CHADL) gene was up-regulated in large combs and was located in reported comb growth quantitative trait loci. In this study, tissue-specific expressions, expression patterns in combs of different ages, and CHADL polymorphisms were analyzed to investigate the relationship between this gene and comb growth traits of Partridge Shank roosters. The results showed that CHADL was more highly expressed in combs than in 10 other tissues, and its expressions in combs tended to gradually increase from the 5-wk-old mark to the 26-wk-old mark. The single-nucleotide polymorphism rs316423539 in the CHADL gene was significantly associated with the comb area and height, whereas rs14822286 was highly correlated with the comb color. Moreover, H1H5, H1H6, and H3H6 were the most advantageous genotype combinations for comb growth traits. Our results might help understand the molecular mechanism of comb growth traits and improve these traits directly by marker assistant selections.
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