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Poult Sci. 2002 Nov;81(11):1609-17.

Genetic diversity at the major histocompatibility complex (B) and microsatellite loci in three commercial broiler pure lines.

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Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, 19717, USA.


Genetic diversity at the MHC and non-MHC loci was investigated in three commercial broiler chicken pure lines. The MHC class II and IV loci were evaluated in Southern hybridizations and molecular genotypes based on RFLP were interpreted from pedigreed families. Four MHC class II and eight class IV genotypes were identified in the broiler lines, and their frequencies differed among the lines. Line-specific MHC genotypes were identified. The observed heterozygosities (59 to 67%) suggest that the MHC loci are highly polymorphic in the broiler lines. At least 9% of the genetic variation at the MHC was due to line differences; the remainder reflected individual variations. To characterize non-MHC genes, 41 microsatellite loci located throughout the chicken genome were evaluated in the broiler lines. Genetic variation was also observed at the microsatellite loci for the broiler lines; the number of alleles at a single locus ranged from one to eight, and the average number of alleles per locus was 3.5, 2.8, and 3.1 for each of the lines, respectively. The observed heterozygosities for microsatellite loci ranged between 0 and 89% in the lines. Based on the fixation index (Fst), about 19% of the genetic variation at microsatellite loci was attributed to broiler line differences. Deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were detected at both MHC and non-MHC loci. Possible explanations for these deviations include genetic selection by the primary broiler breeder or the presence of null alleles that were not identified by the typing procedures described in this report. This study contributes to our knowledge on the molecular characteristics and genetic structure of a commercial broiler chicken population. Analysis of MHC and non-MHC loci suggests that there is still sufficient genetic diversity in the broiler lines to continue the progress toward improved broiler chicken production.

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