Genomic pathway to heavier eggs identified in new study

A new study has revealed the genomic pathway to produce heavier eggs.

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Monika Wisniewska |;
Monika Wisniewska |;

A pathway for improving egg weights in laying hens using a new approach to analyzing variations within specific genes and then targeting birds with those genetic variations for selected breeding has been identified by Synomics, a biological insights business.

Egg weight is a highly heritable trait, meaning that much of the variance between hens is a direct result of genetics. Synomics has used a proprietary combinatorial analytics engine adapted from a platform proven in human science to analyze data from more than 1,000 laying hens which had more than 295,000 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)

Whereas genes may be easy to find, and each one may contain many hundreds of SNPs, being able to single out the SNPs that sit inside or outside the genes orchestrating the gene function and, crucially, regulating the associated traits, in this case egg weight, is the holy grail, Synomics says.

Identifying a small number of high-impact SNPs is much more valuable to scientists than simply identifying a large number of SNPs. By applying Synomics’ platform, scientists can target genes for intervention with more certainly and bring products/solutions to market more rapidly.

Current practices are limited to looking at the impact of each individual SNP in isolation, however, many traits are the result of SNPs, and genes, acting in complex combinations. These combinations can now be analyzed and mapped, allowing the identification of previously disregarded SNPs as highly relevant.

Honing in

In this particular study, Synomics detected 2,018 highly predictive SNPs which mapped to 122 genes as potential targets for intervention. Given that a hen could have upwards of 20,000 genes, being able to narrow down the search to 122 that could hold the key to a heavier egg has an impact on the speed of any subsequent research and development,

Synomics’ technology is able to convert these findings into an industry-standard genetic evaluation model, with material improvements in results due to the novel SNPs identified.

Peter Kristensen, CEO of Synomics comments: “We are giving scientists, farmers and food producers the ability to learn more about the animals they breed and the crops that they grow with insights they have not been previously able to liberate from the data they already hold."


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