Stress-strain properties of individual Merino wool fibres are minor contributors to variations in staple strength induced by genetic selection and nutritional manipulation
Thompson, A.N. and Hynd, P.I. (2009) Stress-strain properties of individual Merino wool fibres are minor contributors to variations in staple strength induced by genetic selection and nutritional manipulation. Animal Production Science, 49 (8). pp. 668-674.
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This paper investigates the contribution of single fibre stress-strain properties to variations in staple strength induced by both selective breeding for staple strength and nutritional manipulation. Merino weaners (n = 40), selected from ‘sound’ and ‘tender’ lines of staple strength selection flocks, were allocated to feeding regimes designed to induce liveweight changes simulating typical Mediterranean seasonal changes. Average staple strength differed by 5 N/ktex between ‘sound’ and ‘tender’ selection flocks and 18 N/ktex between extreme nutritional treatments. The force-extension properties of individual wool fibres (n = 100 per sheep) were measured using a single fibre strength meter. After normalising for differences in fibre cross-sectional area at the point of break, the key parameters used to describe the stress-strain curve for each fibre were: Young’s modulus (GPa), yield stress (MPa), stress at 15% strain (MPa), stress at break (MPa), strain at break (%) and work to break (MPa).
The average stress-strain properties of single fibres differed widely between individual sheep. Stress at break ranged from 163 to 235 MPa (44% range), strain at break ranged from 21 to 44% (103% range) and work to break from 43 to 71 MPa (65% range). There were no significant differences in any of the single fibre properties between the staple strength selection flocks, nor was there any significant interaction (P > 0.05) between staple strength selection flock and nutritional regimes. Nutritional regime had a significant effect on stress at break, strain at break and work to break, but none of the single fibre stress-strain properties removed any appreciable variance in staple strength over and above that accounted for by differences in along- and between-fibre diameter variation. There appears to be little scope for improvement of single fibre stress-strain properties as a means of increasing staple strength in normal production environments. Selection directly for staple strength or indirectly using the fibre diameter variability traits is an effective method to improve staple strength.
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