The environment causes changes in the DNA of Ethiopian chickens

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The main environmental factors of adaptation are related to temperature, which is associated with altitude, precipitation, which has an impact on water availability, as well as soil and land cover, which affect the availability of food for foraging chickens, the scientists found.

The results suggest that regions of the genetic code of chickens are associated with adaptation to these environmental stresses. For example, changes in DNA allow chickens living at high altitudes to be more resistant to low oxygen levels and cold temperatures than those that survive in regions at lower elevations.

The results will inform breeding programs aimed at improving the productivity and climate resilience of indigenous village chicken breeds, which are increasingly in demand as food sources in East African countries.

Harnessing genetic diversity

The scientists studied the DNA of chickens native to villages in regions of Ethiopia with different climates and compared their results with detailed climate information for those regions.

The study, led by scientists from the Center of Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) at the Roslin Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), looked at the DNA of chickens native to villages located in regions of Ethiopia with different climates. Scientists compared their results with detailed climate information for these regions.

“Ethiopia has a very wide range of climatic conditions and the Ethiopian native chicken breeds have great genetic diversity which can be harnessed to help improve the productivity and environmental resilience of poultry,” said Dr Almas Gheyas.

“This highly innovative research illustrates the uniqueness of indigenous African poultry, calling for their conservation and use through innovative breeding programs combining local adaptation with improved production traits,” said Professor Olivier Hanotte. .

“Our findings could help improve the yields of small-scale poultry operations in Ethiopia, which provide 97% of the country’s meat and eggs and are an important source of income. This is the largest study to examine the data. the complete genetic code of chickens from a single country and the first to conduct such a comprehensive analysis of the environmental adaptation of chickens, ”said Dr. Jacqueline Smith.


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