Genotyping tool to aid improved turkey genetics

Array will help turkey breeders better understand the genetics of turkeys in order to improve meat characteristics and health.

Affymetrix Inc. introduced Axiom Turkey Genotyping Array, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) along with Aviagen and Hendrix Genetics.

The array will help turkey breeders better understand the genetics of turkeys in order to improve meat characteristics and health. It will enable scientists and breeders to quickly evaluate genetic markers that can be associated with improved traits such as health outcome and fertility. The genotyping array will also help the industry sustainably address the growing demands of consumers by reducing feed consumption and environmental footprint.

The array development was led by Dr. Julie Long of the ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center under a public/private partnership with Hendrix Genetics, Aviagen and Affymetrix. The Turkey Genome Sequencing Consortium led the efforts to sequence the turkey genome.

The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker discovery effort was led by Martien Groenen of the Animal Breeding & Genomics Centre at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and was funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture. The SNP markers on the turkey array were selected by Dr. Curt Van Tassell of the ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

The commercial launch of the array by Affymetrix allows the entire avian and animal genetics community to benefit from the effort.

"The domestic turkey is an economically important source of meat for consumers in the United States," Long said. "The research performed with this array will help advance the understanding of genetics in turkey, especially for traits that are difficult to predict such as disease resistance and fertility. Understanding turkey genetics requires evaluating large numbers of genetic markers with different sample types. We are excited about the prospect of having this array available for both research and enhancing genetic improvement of the domestic turkey."

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