In a special supplemental volume devoted to Marek’s disease research of the quarterly poultry research journal, Avian Diseases, two papers were authored by the Hy-Line International Research & Development scientific team.
The papers combined work of two of Hy-Line’s industry-leading research programs; selection for improved resistance to the Marek’s disease virus and genomic selection. For over 20 years Hy-Line has conducted a unique Marek’s disease resistance study every generation of elite egg-laying lines. This programme has resulted in significantly improved resistance of Hy-Line products against the Marek’s disease virus. The genomic selection study identified those specific chromosomal regions that contain genes that affect the birds’ ability to survive following Marek’s disease infection.
Dr. Janet Fulton led a group that included geneticists and veterinarians in a study titled “Improving the Outcome of a Marek’s Disease Challenge in Multiple Lines of Egg Type Chickens“. This study summarised results from 11 generations and clearly demonstrated improvement in the survivability following Marek’s disease infection. In addition, the research demonstrated the importance of the Major Histocompatibility Complex in providing Marek’s disease resistance in brown egg layer lines – a fact previously only recognised in white egg layer lines.
The second study involved collaboration between scientists from Hy-Line, Iowa State University and Poznan University of Life Sciences in Poland. Dr. Anna Wolc is the common link between the three institutions having worked at both universities and recently has joined the Hy-Line research team. In this study several statistical models were used to confirm previous research which presumed relationships between genomic regions and Marek’s disease resistance.
Also new genomic regions were identified which contribute to survival in the Hy-Line challenge model. These are significant steps to be used to validate the Genomic Selection improvements used in the Hy-Line selection programme.