Increasing global demand for poultry and the expansion of poultry farming has resulted in an increased burden of pathogens that infect poultry, according to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in the U.K.
Vaccines are available for some poultry pathogens but may be expensive and have limited availability in some countries, RVC noted, adding that a promising strategy to control poultry disease is to produce chickens with enhanced genetic resistance to pathogen colonization and, thus, reduced dependence on antibiotic-mediated pathogen control.
This resistance is influenced by the chicken's immune response as well as the activity of bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome, which can prevent pathogens from colonizing the host, RVC said.
RVC reported that a three-year Bloomsbury studentship has been awarded to look into this: Doctoral student Eden Shaw will be supervised by RVC researchers Dr. Androniki Psifidi, Damer Blake and Fiona Tomley as well as Dr Ozan Gundogdu from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
The project will characterize the gut microbiome and will investigate the genetic architecture of resistance to pathogens in commercial broiler and Indian indigenous chicken breeds, the announcement said.
By applying cutting-edge metagenomics, genomic and functional genomic approaches, the researchers said they aim to provide genomic tools that could be used to inform selective breeding strategies to enhance resistance to pathogens and promote a beneficial microbiome in chickens.