An international group of researchers has published "Multi-Platform Next-Generation Sequencing of the Domestic Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo): Genome Assembly and Analysis," the latest results in an ongoing effort to map the domesticated turkey genome.

The report, which can be found in the journal PLoS Biology, breaks significant new ground. "To date, more than 90% of the domesticated turkey genome has been sequenced and assembled," said Rami Dalloul, assistant professor of animal and poultry sciences in Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "We have already described thousands of genes previously unknown to avian scientists."


Beyond new data for avian researchers, the genome sequencing promises knowledge and benefits for poultry producers. "In the short term, the genome sequence will provide scientists with knowledge of specific genes that are important in meat yields and quality, health and disease resistance, fertility and reproduction," said Dalloul. "For example, we don't always know the mechanism for how host-pathogen interactions work. The genome sequence will allow us to better understand this process, which will in turn give us a better understanding of disease prevention and treatment." In the long term, producers could use the new knowledge to grow turkeys faster and healthier, or breed turkeys with a specific desirable texture, flavor and leanness.