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Virginia Tech researchers contribute to turkey genome sequencing
Date:9/7/2010

An international consortium of researchers has completed the majority of the genome sequence of the domesticated turkey, thanks in part to the efforts of Virginia Tech faculty members.

The research team will publish "Multi-Platform Next-Generation Sequencing of the Domestic Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo): Genome Assembly and Analysis" in the journal PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science) on Sept. 7, 2010.

"To date, more than 90 percent of the domesticated turkey genome has been sequenced and assembled," said Rami Dalloul, assistant professor of animal and poultry sciences in Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The majority of data are derived from the 10 largest chromosomes, called macrochromosomes, and researchers in the consortium are still searching for the best route to sequence the remaining microchromosomes. "We have already described thousands of genes previously unknown to avian scientists," Dalloul said.

Also of interest are the sequences of the sex chromosomes "Z" and "W," which were poorly covered in the past.

In 2008, the research consortium set out to map the genetic blueprint for the domesticated turkey, the fourth-most popular choice of meat in the United States. The following year, Virginia Tech and the University of Minnesota received a two-year, $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to complete the genome sequence, which promises new data for avian researchers and, ultimately, a better quality product for turkey producers and consumers.

"In the short term, the genome sequence will provide scientists with knowledge of specific genes that are important in meat yield and quality, health and disease resistance, fertility, and reproduction," Dalloul said. "For example, we don't always know the mechanism for how host-pathogen interactions work. The genome sequence will allow us to better understand this process, which will in turn give us a better unde
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Contact: Michael Sutphin
msutphin@vt.edu
540-231-6975
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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