Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden conducted a review of eight populations of domestic chickens and the red jungle fowl using high-throughput sequencing of genetic composition. The study conducted identified more 30 genetic loci that were attributed to domestication. Breeding of domestic chickens has resulted in 1,000 deletions from the wild progenitor. The study also identified more than 7 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNIPs), which are used by breeders in advanced selection programs as predictors of desirable traits.
Several selective sweeps representing changes in the genome were noted and were attributed to breeding for desirable phenotype. One mutation is in the gene coding for thyroid-stimulating hormone, common to all domestic chickens. The Swedish researchers are evaluating this finding since it is involved in the regulation of insulin-mediated glucose uptake in muscles. This has direct application to obesity and diabetes in humans.
Domestic chickens are emerging as important research subjects since they are diurnal and have embryonic development in an egg, which facilitates study compared with mammals.