Study identifies chickens with increased resistance to disease
Research funded by the U.S. Poultry & Egg
Association studied the functional genomic and DNA microarray approach to
identify key innate immunity genes as a novel selection method to identify
chickens with increased resistance to disease.
The study is part of the association's extensive industry research program
encompassing all segments of broiler, turkey, and commercial egg operations.
Approximately $2.7 million is currently invested in ongoing research.
Gene analysis to aid selection for disease
Chickens are most susceptible to infections during their first week of
life. Innate immunity is the mechanism hatchlings have to protect themselves. By
identifying chickens with increased innate immune responsiveness, it is likely
to select breeding stock that produce progeny with increased resistance to
multiple bacterial infections, still maintaining the desired growth qualities
required by the industry.
The study has shown that there are clear and measurable innate immunity
parameters under genetic control. This knowledge will allow the Association to
evaluate individual lines of chickens and provide the poultry industry with
valuable information regarding the immune-competence of breeding stock.
Moving into practical application
"We are now moving beyond the theoretical and into the practical
application with the ongoing selection trial. We have: (1) identified a broiler
population of sires with stronger and/or weaker-than-average pro-inflammatory
cytokine/chemokine responses and (2) utilised small numbers of high and low
responding sires to produce progeny with increased or decreased, respectively,
pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine profiles," according to the Association.
"We believe this will allow us to improve the broiler population of
breeding stock by improving their immunological responsiveness. The desired
growth qualities would already be in place but now the line would also have an
effective pro-inflammatory innate immune response with improved resistance
against diverse pathogens, as well as improved immune responses to vaccines. A
new line of chickens based on selection of an innate immune response would
hopefully yield birds that exhibit resistance to multiple pathogens, increased
responsiveness to vaccination, require fewer antibiotics, increased livability,
and are generally healthier."
Related links:U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
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