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1.  Whole-genome sequence analysis reveals differences in population management and selection of European low-input pig breeds 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):601.
Background
A major concern in conservation genetics is to maintain the genetic diversity of populations. Genetic variation in livestock species is threatened by the progressive marginalisation of local breeds in benefit of high-output pigs worldwide. We used high-density SNP and re-sequencing data to assess genetic diversity of local pig breeds from Europe. In addition, we re-sequenced pigs from commercial breeds to identify potential candidate mutations responsible for phenotypic divergence among these groups of breeds.
Results
Our results point out some local breeds with low genetic diversity, whose genome shows a high proportion of regions of homozygosis (>50%) and that harbour a large number of potentially damaging mutations. We also observed a high correlation between genetic diversity estimates using high-density SNP data and Next Generation Sequencing data (r = 0.96 at individual level). The study of non-synonymous SNPs that were fixed in commercial breeds and also in any local breed, but with different allele, revealed 99 non-synonymous SNPs affecting 65 genes. Candidate mutations that may underlie differences in the adaptation to the environment were exemplified by the genes AZGP1 and TAS2R40. We also observed that highly productive breeds may have lost advantageous genotypes within genes involve in immune response – e.g. IL12RB2 and STAB1–, probably as a result of strong artificial in the intensive production systems in pig.
Conclusions
The high correlation between genetic diversity computed with the 60K SNP and whole genome re-sequence data indicates that the Porcine 60K SNP Beadchip provides reliable estimates of genomic diversity in European pig populations despite the expected bias. Moreover, this analysis gave insights for strategies to the genetic characterization of local breeds. The comparison between re-sequenced local pigs and re-sequenced commercial pigs made it possible to report candidate mutations to be responsible for phenotypic divergence among those groups of breeds. This study highlights the importance of low input breeds as a valuable genetic reservoir for the pig production industry. However, the high levels of ROHs, inbreeding and potentially damaging mutations emphasize the importance of the genetic characterization of local breeds to preserve their genomic variability.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-601) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-601
PMCID: PMC4117957  PMID: 25030608
2.  Evolutionary dynamics of copy number variation in pig genomes in the context of adaptation and domestication 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:449.
Background
Copy number variable regions (CNVRs) can result in drastic phenotypic differences and may therefore be subject to selection during domestication. Studying copy number variation in relation to domestication is highly relevant in pigs because of their very rich natural and domestication history that resulted in many different phenotypes. To investigate the evolutionary dynamic of CNVRs, we applied read depth method on next generation sequence data from 16 individuals, comprising wild boars and domestic pigs from Europe and Asia.
Results
We identified 3,118 CNVRs with an average size of 13 kilobases comprising a total of 39.2 megabases of the pig genome and 545 overlapping genes. Functional analyses revealed that CNVRs are enriched with genes related to sensory perception, neurological process and response to stimulus, suggesting their contribution to adaptation in the wild and behavioral changes during domestication. Variations of copy number (CN) of antimicrobial related genes suggest an ongoing process of evolution of these genes to combat food-borne pathogens. Likewise, some genes related to the omnivorous lifestyle of pigs, like genes involved in detoxification, were observed to be CN variable. A small portion of CNVRs was unique to domestic pigs and may have been selected during domestication. The majority of CNVRs, however, is shared between wild and domesticated individuals, indicating that domestication had minor effect on the overall diversity of CNVRs. Also, the excess of CNVRs in non-genic regions implies that a major part of these variations is likely to be (nearly) neutral. Comparison between different populations showed that larger populations have more CNVRs, highlighting that CNVRs are, like other genetic variation such as SNPs and microsatellites, reflecting demographic history rather than phenotypic diversity.
Conclusion
CNVRs in pigs are enriched for genes related to sensory perception, neurological process, and response to stimulus. The majority of CNVRs ascertained in domestic pigs are also variable in wild boars, suggesting that the domestication of the pig did not result in a change in CNVRs in domesticated pigs. The majority of variable regions were found to reflect demographic patterns rather than phenotypic.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-449
PMCID: PMC3716681  PMID: 23829399
Structural variation; Copy number variation; Next generation sequencing data; Read depth method
3.  Large scale variation in DNA copy number in chicken breeds 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:398.
Background
Detecting genetic variation is a critical step in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying phenotypic diversity. Until recently, such detection has mostly focused on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) because of the ease in screening complete genomes. Another type of variant, copy number variation (CNV), is emerging as a significant contributor to phenotypic variation in many species. Here we describe a genome-wide CNV study using array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) in a wide variety of chicken breeds.
Results
We identified 3,154 CNVs, grouped into 1,556 CNV regions (CNVRs). Thirty percent of the CNVs were detected in at least 2 individuals. The average size of the CNVs detected was 46.3 kb with the largest CNV, located on GGAZ, being 4.3 Mb. Approximately 75% of the CNVs are copy number losses relatively to the Red Jungle Fowl reference genome. The genome coverage of CNVRs in this study is 60 Mb, which represents almost 5.4% of the chicken genome. In particular large gene families such as the keratin gene family and the MHC show extensive CNV.
Conclusions
A relative large group of the CNVs are line-specific, several of which were previously shown to be related to the causative mutation for a number of phenotypic variants. The chance that inter-specific CNVs fall into CNVRs detected in chicken is related to the evolutionary distance between the species. Our results provide a valuable resource for the study of genetic and phenotypic variation in this phenotypically diverse species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-398
PMCID: PMC3751642  PMID: 23763846
Copy number variation; Chicken; aCGH; Line-specific CNVs; Inter-specific CNVs; Genes
4.  Development of a genetic tool for product regulation in the diverse British pig breed market 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:580.
Background
The application of DNA markers for the identification of biological samples from both human and non-human species is widespread and includes use in food authentication. In the food industry the financial incentive to substituting the true name of a food product with a higher value alternative is driving food fraud. This applies to British pork products where products derived from traditional pig breeds are of premium value. The objective of this study was to develop a genetic assay for regulatory authentication of traditional pig breed-labelled products in the porcine food industry in the United Kingdom.
Results
The dataset comprised of a comprehensive coverage of breed types present in Britain: 460 individuals from 7 traditional breeds, 5 commercial purebreds, 1 imported European breed and 1 imported Asian breed were genotyped using the PorcineSNP60 beadchip. Following breed-informative SNP selection, assignment power was calculated for increasing SNP panel size. A 96-plex assay created using the most informative SNPs revealed remarkably high genetic differentiation between the British pig breeds, with an average FST of 0.54 and Bayesian clustering analysis also indicated that they were distinct homogenous populations. The posterior probability of assignment of any individual of a presumed origin actually originating from that breed given an alternative breed origin was > 99.5% in 174 out of 182 contrasts, at a test value of log(LR) > 0. Validation of the 96-plex assay using independent test samples of known origin was successful; a subsequent survey of market samples revealed a high level of breed label conformity.
Conclusion
The newly created 96-plex assay using selected markers from the PorcineSNP60 beadchip enables powerful assignment of samples to traditional breed origin and can effectively identify mislabelling, providing a highly effective tool for DNA analysis in food forensics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-580
PMCID: PMC3499217  PMID: 23150935
5.  Whole genome SNP discovery and analysis of genetic diversity in Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:391.
Background
The turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an important agricultural species and the second largest contributor to the world’s poultry meat production. Genetic improvement is attributed largely to selective breeding programs that rely on highly heritable phenotypic traits, such as body size and breast muscle development. Commercial breeding with small effective population sizes and epistasis can result in loss of genetic diversity, which in turn can lead to reduced individual fitness and reduced response to selection. The presence of genomic diversity in domestic livestock species therefore, is of great importance and a prerequisite for rapid and accurate genetic improvement of selected breeds in various environments, as well as to facilitate rapid adaptation to potential changes in breeding goals. Genomic selection requires a large number of genetic markers such as e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) the most abundant source of genetic variation within the genome.
Results
Alignment of next generation sequencing data of 32 individual turkeys from different populations was used for the discovery of 5.49 million SNPs, which subsequently were used for the analysis of genetic diversity among the different populations. All of the commercial lines branched from a single node relative to the heritage varieties and the South Mexican turkey population. Heterozygosity of all individuals from the different turkey populations ranged from 0.17-2.73 SNPs/Kb, while heterozygosity of populations ranged from 0.73-1.64 SNPs/Kb. The average frequency of heterozygous SNPs in individual turkeys was 1.07 SNPs/Kb. Five genomic regions with very low nucleotide variation were identified in domestic turkeys that showed state of fixation towards alleles different than wild alleles.
Conclusion
The turkey genome is much less diverse with a relatively low frequency of heterozygous SNPs as compared to other livestock species like chicken and pig. The whole genome SNP discovery study in turkey resulted in the detection of 5.49 million putative SNPs compared to the reference genome. All commercial lines appear to share a common origin. Presence of different alleles/haplotypes in the SM population highlights that specific haplotypes have been selected in the modern domesticated turkey.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-391
PMCID: PMC3496629  PMID: 22891612
6.  A high-resolution map of the Nile tilapia genome: a resource for studying cichlids and other percomorphs 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:222.
Background
The Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is the second most farmed fish species worldwide. It is also an important model for studies of fish physiology, particularly because of its broad tolerance to an array of environments. It is a good model to study evolutionary mechanisms in vertebrates, because of its close relationship to haplochromine cichlids, which have undergone rapid speciation in East Africa. The existing genomic resources for Nile tilapia include a genetic map, BAC end sequences and ESTs, but comparative genome analysis and maps of quantitative trait loci (QTL) are still limited.
Results
We have constructed a high-resolution radiation hybrid (RH) panel for the Nile tilapia and genotyped 1358 markers consisting of 850 genes, 82 markers corresponding to BAC end sequences, 154 microsatellites and 272 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). From these, 1296 markers could be associated in 81 RH groups, while 62 were not linked. The total size of the RH map is 34,084 cR3500 and 937,310 kb. It covers 88% of the entire genome with an estimated inter-marker distance of 742 Kb. Mapping of microsatellites enabled integration to the genetic map. We have merged LG8 and LG24 into a single linkage group, and confirmed that LG16-LG21 are also merged. The orientation and association of RH groups to each chromosome and LG was confirmed by chromosomal in situ hybridizations (FISH) of 55 BACs. Fifty RH groups were localized on the 22 chromosomes while 31 remained small orphan groups. Synteny relationships were determined between Nile tilapia, stickleback, medaka and pufferfish.
Conclusion
The RH map and associated FISH map provide a valuable gene-ordered resource for gene mapping and QTL studies. All genetic linkage groups with their corresponding RH groups now have a corresponding chromosome which can be identified in the karyotype. Placement of conserved segments indicated that multiple inter-chromosomal rearrangements have occurred between Nile tilapia and the other model fishes. These maps represent a valuable resource for organizing the forthcoming genome sequence of Nile tilapia, and provide a foundation for evolutionary studies of East African cichlid fishes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-222
PMCID: PMC3441813  PMID: 22672252
7.  The development and characterization of a 60K SNP chip for chicken 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:274.
Background
In livestock species like the chicken, high throughput single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping assays are increasingly being used for whole genome association studies and as a tool in breeding (referred to as genomic selection). To be of value in a wide variety of breeds and populations, the success rate of the SNP genotyping assay, the distribution of the SNP across the genome and the minor allele frequencies (MAF) of the SNPs used are extremely important.
Results
We describe the design of a moderate density (60k) Illumina SNP BeadChip in chicken consisting of SNPs known to be segregating at high to medium minor allele frequencies (MAF) in the two major types of commercial chicken (broilers and layers). This was achieved by the identification of 352,303 SNPs with moderate to high MAF in 2 broilers and 2 layer lines using Illumina sequencing on reduced representation libraries. To further increase the utility of the chip, we also identified SNPs on sequences currently not covered by the chicken genome assembly (Gallus_gallus-2.1). This was achieved by 454 sequencing of the chicken genome at a depth of 12x and the identification of SNPs on 454-derived contigs not covered by the current chicken genome assembly. In total we added 790 SNPs that mapped to 454-derived contigs as well as 421 SNPs with a position on Chr_random of the current assembly. The SNP chip contains 57,636 SNPs of which 54,293 could be genotyped and were shown to be segregating in chicken populations. Our SNP identification procedure appeared to be highly reliable and the overall validation rate of the SNPs on the chip was 94%. We were able to map 328 SNPs derived from the 454 sequence contigs on the chicken genome. The majority of these SNPs map to chromosomes that are already represented in genome build Gallus_gallus-2.1.0. Twenty-eight SNPs were used to construct two new linkage groups most likely representing two micro-chromosomes not covered by the current genome assembly.
Conclusions
The high success rate of the SNPs on the Illumina chicken 60K Beadchip emphasizes the power of Next generation sequence (NGS) technology for the SNP identification and selection step. The identification of SNPs from sequence contigs derived from NGS sequencing resulted in improved coverage of the chicken genome and the construction of two new linkage groups most likely representing two chicken micro-chromosomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-274
PMCID: PMC3117858  PMID: 21627800
8.  Genome wide SNP discovery, analysis and evaluation in mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:150.
Background
Next generation sequencing technologies allow to obtain at low cost the genomic sequence information that currently lacks for most economically and ecologically important organisms. For the mallard duck genomic data is limited. The mallard is, besides a species of large agricultural and societal importance, also the focal species when it comes to long distance dispersal of Avian Influenza. For large scale identification of SNPs we performed Illumina sequencing of wild mallard DNA and compared our data with ongoing genome and EST sequencing of domesticated conspecifics. This is the first study of its kind for waterfowl.
Results
More than one billion base pairs of sequence information were generated resulting in a 16× coverage of a reduced representation library of the mallard genome. Sequence reads were aligned to a draft domesticated duck reference genome and allowed for the detection of over 122,000 SNPs within our mallard sequence dataset. In addition, almost 62,000 nucleotide positions on the domesticated duck reference showed a different nucleotide compared to wild mallard. Approximately 20,000 SNPs identified within our data were shared with SNPs identified in the sequenced domestic duck or in EST sequencing projects. The shared SNPs were considered to be highly reliable and were used to benchmark non-shared SNPs for quality. Genotyping of a representative sample of 364 SNPs resulted in a SNP conversion rate of 99.7%. The correlation of the minor allele count and observed minor allele frequency in the SNP discovery pool was 0.72.
Conclusion
We identified almost 150,000 SNPs in wild mallards that will likely yield good results in genotyping. Of these, ~101,000 SNPs were detected within our wild mallard sequences and ~49,000 were detected between wild and domesticated duck data. In the ~101,000 SNPs we found a subset of ~20,000 SNPs shared between wild mallards and the sequenced domesticated duck suggesting a low genetic divergence. Comparison of quality metrics between the total SNP set (122,000 + 62,000 = 184,000 SNPs) and the validated subset shows similar characteristics for both sets. This indicates that we have detected a large amount (~150,000) of accurately inferred mallard SNPs, which will benefit bird evolutionary studies, ecological studies (e.g. disentangling migratory connectivity) and industrial breeding programs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-150
PMCID: PMC3065436  PMID: 21410945
9.  Structural variation in the chicken genome identified by paired-end next-generation DNA sequencing of reduced representation libraries 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:94.
Background
Variation within individual genomes ranges from single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to kilobase, and even megabase, sized structural variants (SVs), such as deletions, insertions, inversions, and more complex rearrangements. Although much is known about the extent of SVs in humans and mice, species in which they exert significant effects on phenotypes, very little is known about the extent of SVs in the 2.5-times smaller and less repetitive genome of the chicken.
Results
We identified hundreds of shared and divergent SVs in four commercial chicken lines relative to the reference chicken genome. The majority of SVs were found in intronic and intergenic regions, and we also found SVs in the coding regions. To identify the SVs, we combined high-throughput short read paired-end sequencing of genomic reduced representation libraries (RRLs) of pooled samples from 25 individuals and computational mapping of DNA sequences from a reference genome.
Conclusion
We provide a first glimpse of the high abundance of small structural genomic variations in the chicken. Extrapolating our results, we estimate that there are thousands of rearrangements in the chicken genome, the majority of which are located in non-coding regions. We observed that structural variation contributes to genetic differentiation among current domesticated chicken breeds and the Red Jungle Fowl. We expect that, because of their high abundance, SVs might explain phenotypic differences and play a role in the evolution of the chicken genome. Finally, our study exemplifies an efficient and cost-effective approach for identifying structural variation in sequenced genomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-94
PMCID: PMC3039614  PMID: 21291514
10.  A SNP based linkage map of the turkey genome reveals multiple intrachromosomal rearrangements between the Turkey and Chicken genomes 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:647.
Background
The turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an important agricultural species that is the second largest contributor to the world's poultry meat production. The genomic resources of turkey provide turkey breeders with tools needed for the genetic improvement of commercial breeds of turkey for economically important traits. A linkage map of turkey is essential not only for the mapping of quantitative trait loci, but also as a framework to enable the assignment of sequence contigs to specific chromosomes. Comparative genomics with chicken provides insight into mechanisms of genome evolution and helps in identifying rare genomic events such as genomic rearrangements and duplications/deletions.
Results
Eighteen full sib families, comprising 1008 (35 F1 and 973 F2) birds, were genotyped for 775 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Of the 775 SNPs, 570 were informative and used to construct a linkage map in turkey. The final map contains 531 markers in 28 linkage groups. The total genetic distance covered by these linkage groups is 2,324 centimorgans (cM) with the largest linkage group (81 loci) measuring 326 cM. Average marker interval for all markers across the 28 linkage groups is 4.6 cM. Comparative mapping of turkey and chicken revealed two inter-, and 57 intrachromosomal rearrangements between these two species.
Conclusion
Our turkey genetic map of 531 markers reveals a genome length of 2,324 cM. Our linkage map provides an improvement of previously published maps because of the more even distribution of the markers and because the map is completely based on SNP markers enabling easier and faster genotyping assays than the microsatellitemarkers used in previous linkage maps. Turkey and chicken are shown to have a highly conserved genomic structure with a relatively low number of inter-, and intrachromosomal rearrangements.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-647
PMCID: PMC3091770  PMID: 21092123
11.  Regional regulation of transcription in the chicken genome 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:28.
Background
Over the past years, the relationship between gene transcription and chromosomal location has been studied in a number of different vertebrate genomes. Regional differences in gene expression have been found in several different species. The chicken genome, as the closest sequenced genome relative to mammals, is an important resource for investigating regional effects on transcription in birds and studying the regional dynamics of chromosome evolution by comparative analysis.
Results
We used gene expression data to survey eight chicken tissues and create transcriptome maps for all chicken chromosomes. The results reveal the presence of two distinct types of chromosomal regions characterized by clusters of highly or lowly expressed genes. Furthermore, these regions correlate highly with a number of genome characteristics. Regions with clusters of highly expressed genes have higher gene densities, shorter genes, shorter average intron and higher GC content compared to regions with clusters of lowly expressed genes. A comparative analysis between the chicken and human transcriptome maps constructed using similar panels of tissues suggests that the regions with clusters of highly expressed genes are relatively conserved between the two genomes.
Conclusions
Our results revealed the presence of a higher order organization of the chicken genome that affects gene expression, confirming similar observations in other species. These results will aid in the further understanding of the regional dynamics of chromosome evolution.
The microarray data used in this analysis have been submitted to NCBI GEO database under accession number GSE17108. The reviewer access link is: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/query/acc.cgi?token=tjwjpscyceqawjk&acc=GSE17108
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-28
PMCID: PMC2817690  PMID: 20074332
12.  Large scale single nucleotide polymorphism discovery in unsequenced genomes using second generation high throughput sequencing technology: applied to turkey 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:479.
Background
The development of second generation sequencing methods has enabled large scale DNA variation studies at moderate cost. For the high throughput discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in species lacking a sequenced reference genome, we set-up an analysis pipeline based on a short read de novo sequence assembler and a program designed to identify variation within short reads. To illustrate the potential of this technique, we present the results obtained with a randomly sheared, enzymatically generated, 2-3 kbp genome fraction of six pooled Meleagris gallopavo (turkey) individuals.
Results
A total of 100 million 36 bp reads were generated, representing approximately 5-6% (~62 Mbp) of the turkey genome, with an estimated sequence depth of 58. Reads consisting of bases called with less than 1% error probability were selected and assembled into contigs. Subsequently, high throughput discovery of nucleotide variation was performed using sequences with more than 90% reliability by using the assembled contigs that were 50 bp or longer as the reference sequence. We identified more than 7,500 SNPs with a high probability of representing true nucleotide variation in turkeys. Increasing the reference genome by adding publicly available turkey BAC-end sequences increased the number of SNPs to over 11,000. A comparison with the sequenced chicken genome indicated that the assembled turkey contigs were distributed uniformly across the turkey genome. Genotyping of a representative sample of 340 SNPs resulted in a SNP conversion rate of 95%. The correlation of the minor allele count (MAC) and observed minor allele frequency (MAF) for the validated SNPs was 0.69.
Conclusion
We provide an efficient and cost-effective approach for the identification of thousands of high quality SNPs in species currently lacking a sequenced genome and applied this to turkey. The methodology addresses a random fraction of the genome, resulting in an even distribution of SNPs across the targeted genome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-479
PMCID: PMC2772860  PMID: 19835600
13.  Application of massive parallel sequencing to whole genome SNP discovery in the porcine genome 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:374.
Background
Although the Illumina 1 G Genome Analyzer generates billions of base pairs of sequence data, challenges arise in sequence selection due to the varying sequence quality. Therefore, in the framework of the International Porcine SNP Chip Consortium, this pilot study aimed to evaluate the impact of the quality level of the sequenced bases on mapping quality and identification of true SNPs on a large scale.
Results
DNA pooled from five animals from a commercial boar line was digested with DraI; 150–250-bp fragments were isolated and end-sequenced using the Illumina 1 G Genome Analyzer, yielding 70,348,064 sequences 36-bp long. Rules were developed to select sequences, which were then aligned to unique positions in a reference genome. Sequences were selected based on quality, and three thresholds of sequence quality (SQ) were compared. The highest threshold of SQ allowed identification of a larger number of SNPs (17,489), distributed widely across the pig genome. In total, 3,142 SNPs were validated with a success rate of 96%. The correlation between estimated minor allele frequency (MAF) and genotyped MAF was moderate, and SNPs were highly polymorphic in other pig breeds. Lowering the SQ threshold and maintaining the same criteria for SNP identification resulted in the discovery of fewer SNPs (16,768), of which 259 were not identified using higher SQ levels. Validation of SNPs found exclusively in the lower SQ threshold had a success rate of 94% and a low correlation between estimated MAF and genotyped MAF. Base change analysis suggested that the rate of transitions in the pig genome is likely to be similar to that observed in humans. Chromosome X showed reduced nucleotide diversity relative to autosomes, as observed for other species.
Conclusion
Large numbers of SNPs can be identified reliably by creating strict rules for sequence selection, which simultaneously decreases sequence ambiguity. Selection of sequences using a higher SQ threshold leads to more reliable identification of SNPs. Lower SQ thresholds can be used to guarantee sufficient sequence coverage, resulting in high success rate but less reliable MAF estimation. Nucleotide diversity varies between porcine chromosomes, with the X chromosome showing less variation as observed in other species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-374
PMCID: PMC2739861  PMID: 19674453
14.  Comparative genomics in chicken and Pekin duck using FISH mapping and microarray analysis 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:357.
Background
The availability of the complete chicken (Gallus gallus) genome sequence as well as a large number of chicken probes for fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) and microarray resources facilitate comparative genomic studies between chicken and other bird species. In a previous study, we provided a comprehensive cytogenetic map for the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and the first analysis of copy number variants (CNVs) in birds. Here, we extend this approach to the Pekin duck (Anas platyrhynchos), an obvious target for comparative genomic studies due to its agricultural importance and resistance to avian flu.
Results
We provide a detailed molecular cytogenetic map of the duck genome through FISH assignment of 155 chicken clones. We identified one inter- and six intrachromosomal rearrangements between chicken and duck macrochromosomes and demonstrated conserved synteny among all microchromosomes analysed. Array comparative genomic hybridisation revealed 32 CNVs, of which 5 overlap previously designated "hotspot" regions between chicken and turkey.
Conclusion
Our results suggest extensive conservation of avian genomes across 90 million years of evolution in both macro- and microchromosomes. The data on CNVs between chicken and duck extends previous analyses in chicken and turkey and supports the hypotheses that avian genomes contain fewer CNVs than mammalian genomes and that genomes of evolutionarily distant species share regions of copy number variation ("CNV hotspots"). Our results will expedite duck genomics, assist marker development and highlight areas of interest for future evolutionary and functional studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-357
PMCID: PMC2907691  PMID: 19656363
15.  Partial duplication of the PRLR and SPEF2 genes at the late feathering locus in chicken 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:391.
Background
One of the loci responsible for feather development in chickens is K. The K allele is partially dominant to the k+ allele and causes a retard in the emergence of flight feathers at hatch. The K locus is sex linked and located on the Z chromosome. Therefore, the locus can be utilized to produce phenotypes that identify the sexes of chicks at hatch. Previous studies on the organization of the K allele concluded the integration of endogenous retrovirus 21 (ev21) into one of two large homologous segments located on the Z chromosome of late feathering chickens. In this study, a detailed molecular analysis of the K locus and a DNA test to distinguish between homozygous and heterozygous late feathering males are presented.
Results
The K locus was investigated with quantitative PCR by examining copy number variations in a total of fourteen markers surrounding the ev21 integration site. The results showed a duplication at the K allele and sequence analysis of the breakpoint junction indicated a tandem duplication of 176,324 basepairs. The tandem duplication of this region results in the partial duplication of two genes; the prolactin receptor and the gene encoding sperm flagellar protein 2. Sequence analysis revealed that the duplication is similar in Broiler and White Leghorn. In addition, twelve late feathering animals, including Broiler, White Leghorn, and Brown Layer lines, contained a 78 bp breakpoint junction fragment, indicating that the duplication is similar in all breeds. The breakpoint junction was used to develop a TaqMan-based quantitative PCR test to allow distinction between homozygous and heterozygous late feathering males. In total, 85.3% of the animals tested were correctly assigned, 14.7% were unassigned and no animals were incorrectly assigned.
Conclusion
The detailed molecular analysis presented in this study revealed the presence of a tandem duplication in the K allele. The duplication resulted in the partial duplication of two genes; the prolactin receptor and the gene encoding sperm flagellar protein 2. Furthermore, a DNA test was developed to distinguish between homozygous and heterozygous late feathering males.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-391
PMCID: PMC2542384  PMID: 18713476
16.  Whole genome comparative studies between chicken and turkey and their implications for avian genome evolution 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:168.
Background
Comparative genomics is a powerful means of establishing inter-specific relationships between gene function/location and allows insight into genomic rearrangements, conservation and evolutionary phylogeny. The availability of the complete sequence of the chicken genome has initiated the development of detailed genomic information in other birds including turkey, an agriculturally important species where mapping has hitherto focused on linkage with limited physical information. No molecular study has yet examined conservation of avian microchromosomes, nor differences in copy number variants (CNVs) between birds.
Results
We present a detailed comparative cytogenetic map between chicken and turkey based on reciprocal chromosome painting and mapping of 338 chicken BACs to turkey metaphases. Two inter-chromosomal changes (both involving centromeres) and three pericentric inversions have been identified between chicken and turkey; and array CGH identified 16 inter-specific CNVs.
Conclusion
This is the first study to combine the modalities of zoo-FISH and array CGH between different avian species. The first insight into the conservation of microchromosomes, the first comparative cytogenetic map of any bird and the first appraisal of CNVs between birds is provided. Results suggest that avian genomes have remained relatively stable during evolution compared to mammalian equivalents.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-168
PMCID: PMC2375447  PMID: 18410676
17.  A high-resolution radiation hybrid map of chicken chromosome 5 and comparison with human chromosomes 
BMC Genomics  2004;5:66.
Background
The resolution of radiation hybrid (RH) maps is intermediate between that of the genetic and BAC (Bacterial Artificial Chromosome) contig maps. Moreover, once framework RH maps of a genome have been constructed, a quick location of markers by simple PCR on the RH panel is possible. The chicken ChickRH6 panel recently produced was used here to construct a high resolution RH map of chicken GGA5. To confirm the validity of the map and to provide valuable comparative mapping information, both markers from the genetic map and a high number of ESTs (Expressed Sequence Tags) were used. Finally, this RH map was used for testing the accuracy of the chicken genome assembly for chromosome 5.
Results
A total of 169 markers (21 microsatellites and 148 ESTs) were typed on the ChickRH6 RH panel, of which 134 were assigned to GGA5. The final map is composed of 73 framework markers extending over a 1315.6 cR distance. The remaining 61 markers were placed alongside the framework markers within confidence intervals.
Conclusion
The high resolution framework map obtained in this study has markers covering the entire chicken chromosome 5 and reveals the existence of a high number of rearrangements when compared to the human genome. Only two discrepancies were observed in relation to the sequence assembly recently reported for this chromosome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-5-66
PMCID: PMC521070  PMID: 15369602

Results 1-17 (17)