Genetic structure of a wide-spectrum chicken gene pool

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SummaryThe genetic structure of 65 chicken populations was studied using 29 simple sequence repeat loci. Six main clusters which corresponded to geographical origins and histories were identified: Brown Egg Layers; predominantly Broilers; native Chinese breeds or breeds with recent Asian origin; predominantly breeds of European derivation; a small cluster containing populations with no common history and populations that had breeding history with White Leghorn. Another group of populations that shared their genome with several clusters was defined as ‘Multi-clusters’. Gallus gallus gallus (Multi-clusters), one of the subspecies of the Red Jungle Fowl, which was previously suggested to be one of the ancestors of the domesticated chicken, has almost no shared loci with European and White Egg layer populations. In a further sub-clustering of the populations, discrimination between all the 65 populations was possible, and relationships between each were suggested. The genetic variation between populations was found to account for about 34% of the total genetic variation, 11% of the variation being between clusters and 23% being between populations within clusters. The suggested clusters may assist in future studies of genetic aspects of the chicken gene pool.

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