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Poult Sci. 2007 Jan;86(1):46-9.

Microsatellite marker-based genetic analysis of relatedness between commercial and heritage turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo).

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  • 1Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg 24061, USA.


The turkey is second only to the chicken in importance as an agriculturally important poultry species. Unlike the chicken, however, genetic studies of the turkey continue to be limited. For example, to date, many genomic investigations have been conducted to characterize genetic relationships between commercial (CO) and non-CO chicken breeds, whereas the nature of the genetic relatedness between CO and heritage turkeys remains unknown. The objective of the current research was to use microsatellites to analyze the genetic relatedness between CO and heritage domestic turkeys including Narragansett, Bourbon Red, Blue Slate, Spanish Black, and Royal Palm. Primer pairs specific for 10 previously described turkey microsatellite markers were used. The phylogenetic analysis showed that the Blue Slate, Bourbon Red, and Narragansett were genetically closely related to the CO strain, with a Nei distance of 0.30, and the Royal Palm and Spanish Black were the least related to the CO strain, with Nei distances of 0.41 and 0.40, respectively. The present work provides a foundation for the basis of using heritage turkeys to genetically improve CO populations by introgression.

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