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Genome-wide association studies of immune, disease and production traits in indigenous chicken ecotypes

Genome-wide association studies of immune, disease and production traits in indigenous chicken ecotypes

Psifidi, Androniki, Banos, Georgios, Matika, Oswald, Desta, Takele, Bettridge, Judy ORCID: 0000-0002-3917-4660, Hume, David, Dessie, Tadelle, Christley, Rob, Wigley, Paul, Hanotte, Olivier and Kaiser, Pete (2016) Genome-wide association studies of immune, disease and production traits in indigenous chicken ecotypes. Genetics Selection Evolution, 48:74. ISSN 0999-193X (Print), 1297-9686 (Online) (doi:

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The majority of chickens in sub-Saharan Africa are indigenous ecotypes, well adapted to the local environment and raised in scavenging production systems. Although they are generally resilient to disease challenge, routine vaccination and biosecurity measures are rarely applied and infectious diseases remain a major cause of mortality and reduced productivity. Management and genetic improvement programmes are hampered by lack of routine data recording. Selective breeding based on genomic technologies may provide the means to enhance sustainability. In this study, we investigated the genetic architecture of antibody response to four major infectious diseases [infectious bursal disease (IBDV), Marek’s disease (MDV), fowl typhoid (SG), fowl cholera (PM)] and resistance to Eimeria and cestode parasitism, along with two production traits [body weight and body condition score (BCS)] in two distinct indigenous Ethiopian chicken ecotypes. We conducted variance component analyses, genome-wide association studies, and pathway and selective sweep analyses.

The large majority of birds was found to have antibody titres for all pathogens and were infected with both parasites, suggesting almost universal exposure. We derived significant moderate to high heritabilities for IBDV, MDV and PM antibody titres, cestodes infestation, body weight and BCS. We identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with genome-wide significance for each trait. Based on these associations, we identified for each trait, pathways, networks and functional gene clusters that include plausible candidate genes. Selective sweep analyses revealed a locus on chromosome 18 associated with viral antibody titres and resistance to Eimeria parasitism that is within a positive selection signal. We found no significant genetic correlations between production, immune and disease traits, implying that selection for altered antibody response and/or disease resistance will not affect production.

We confirmed the presence of genetic variability and identified SNPs significantly associated with immune, disease and production traits in indigenous village chickens. Results underpin the feasibility of concomitant genetic improvement for enhanced antibody response, resistance to parasitism and productivity within and across indigenous chicken ecotypes.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: genome wide association studies, indigenous chickens, ethiopia
Subjects: R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2020 10:30

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