Submitted to: Agricultural Biotechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/18/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Genomics is a rapidly growing field that is generating a lot of excitement. This buildup is mainly due to the expectation that the resulting information will greatly impact human health and agriculture. Poultry is the third largest agricultural commodity in the U.S. and given the breeding structure, should benefit from genomics-related technologies. In this review, we present the present state of poultry genomics with an emphasis on its likely relevance. In brief, resources and tools are available to generate genetic tests to enhance gains in animal breeding. While this is the driving force of the industry at the moment, we argue that knowledge on how hereditary input produces physiological output will provide the greatest and most long range benefits to agriculture.
Technical Abstract: In this review genomics is defined as the study of whole genomes, i.e., the top-down approach to genetic analysis. The present state of poultry genomics is reviewed with an emphasis on its likely relevance to the future of agriculture. To date, this research has focused on the use of DNA-based markers to develop reference genetic linkage maps of the chicken that are now being applied to the study of complex, hereditable traits of importance to agriculture (known as quantitative trait loci or QTL). A consensus reference map will soon be available with approximately 2000 markers spanning about 3400 cM on 50 linkage groups. Although several limitations remain, the existing map provides a good beginning for whole genome QTL searches. However, physical mapping of the chicken genome is still in its infancy. The applications of genomics to improved agricultural productivity are likely to grow exponentially with time. The primary areas in which this research will be employed are 1. isolating genes/alleles which encode QTL, 2. applying DNA-based assays for marker-assisted selection (MAS), 3. enhancing our understanding of the evolution of domestic plants and animals, and 4. elucidating the connection between hereditary input (genotype) and physiological output (phenotype). We argue that advances in this last area (now referred to as functional genomics) will provide the greatest and most long range benefits to agriculture and could be the centerpiece for integration of various aspects of poultry science in the next century.