The Football Gene Project: A Multi-Disciplinary Investigation into the Association of Genetic Polymorphisms with Phenotypes in Football-Specific Contexts

McAuley, Alexander B. T. (2023) The Football Gene Project: A Multi-Disciplinary Investigation into the Association of Genetic Polymorphisms with Phenotypes in Football-Specific Contexts. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Alexander McAuley PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Jun 2023_Final Award Dec 2023 .pdf - Accepted Version

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The focus of current genetic research in sport is on further understanding genotype-phenotype relationships. However, the majority of genetic research has centred on individual sports, which means there is currently a lack of studies on team sports such as football. Since sports vary in their contextual demands, it is likely there are also significant distinctions at the molecular level between athletes of different sports. As such, genetic associations with other sports cannot be generalised to a football-specific context and need to be investigated independently. Accordingly, the overarching aim of this thesis was to investigate the association of genetic polymorphisms with football phenotypes.

The second section of this thesis synthesised existing genetic association research in football. This facilitated the identification of specific methodological limitations and gaps in this research field that could be addressed in the subsequent experimental chapters. There was little evaluation regarding the extent of genetic testing in football, as well as a lack of cross-sectional studies with youth cohorts investigating quantitative traits and development. Following an independent meta-analysis associations were shown between ACTN3 (rs1815739), ACE I/D, and athlete status. An additional narrative synthesis also found ACTN3 (rs1815739), ACAN (rs1516797), and VEGFA (rs2010963) may be associated with injury susceptibility.

The first experimental study assessed the prevalence of genetic testing in professional football, with only 10% of coaches, practitioners, and players reporting they had utilised genetic testing. The second, third, fourth, and fifth experimental studies examined the association of several polymorphisms, with technical, psychological, physiological, and age phase phenotypes, respectively, in English academy football players. Significant associations were found between individual polymorphisms, polygenic profiles, and football phenotypes in all studies. As such, the results of this thesis suggest inter-individual genetic variation does influence football phenotypes and has identified several novel associations that warrant further investigation in larger independent football cohorts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
15 June 2023Submitted
19 December 2023Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Athlete development; Genetics; Genomics; Soccer; Talent identification
Subjects: CAH03 - biological and sport sciences > CAH03-01 - biosciences > CAH03-01-07 - genetics
CAH03 - biological and sport sciences > CAH03-02 - sport and exercise sciences > CAH03-02-01 - sport and exercise sciences
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > College of Life Sciences
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2024 16:18
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2024 11:49

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