The recent 64th National Breeders Roundtable in St. Louis, Mo., featured nine speakers representing eight universities and one representative from industry. The presentations covered multi-country genetic evaluation systems, new developments in statistical genetics, duck genetics, conservation genetics, epigenetics and broiler meat quality. The National Breeders Roundtable is sponsored by the Poultry Breeders of America, a council of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

A presentation by Dr. James “Jim” Arthur, former vice president of research and development for Hy-Line International, gave an enlightening, historical perspective of the advances in laying hen genetics. Dr. Arthur has been instrumental in bringing Hy-Line to its current position in the laying hen market.

The program also included the inaugural Student Research Poster competition. A committee of primary breeder geneticists collected and judged the posters. The winners were announced at the meeting, with each receiving a cash prize.


Melissa Herrmann, Iowa State University, placed first in the poster competition. Herrmann’s research is leading to the identification of gene families and genetic pathways associated with resistance to the Newcastle disease virus. Her research may ultimately lead to development of chickens that are resistant to the disease or express greater robustness in face of viral challenges.

Alex Gilley, University of Arkansas, placed second. Gilley’s research will provide broiler breeding companies with an essential tool to improve breast meat production without needing to sacrifice birds. He and his collaborators are using a dual-energy, x-ray absorptiometry machine and an array of special statistical tools to predict how much breast meat a bird will have at processing time, using measurements taken as early as four days old.

John Hsieh, Iowa State University, placed third. Hsieh explored similarities between human and chicken immune systems to describe the physical structure of the proteins forming the Newcastle disease virus. The detailed knowledge that his work has generated will enable the development of effective strategies to mitigate viral replication and activity.