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Turkey Genome Sequencing Consortium Members Nab USDA Funding

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Virginia Tech and the University of Minnesota announced today that they have received a two-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture worth $908,280.

The researchers, members of the Turkey Genome Sequencing Consortium, plan to use the funding to complete the domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) genome — an effort that will rely on next-generation sequencing platforms combined with an annotation pipeline for assembling the genome, finding genes, and determining gene functions.

The team announced the turkey sequencing project nearly a year ago. So far they have generated about 90 percent of the sequence necessary for the project. The data will reportedly be released to GenBank in the near future.

Researchers also plan to use the award to develop a bioinformatics and comparative genome resource that they can use for turkey as well as chicken.

"The new award provides the crucial support needed to put in place a definitive genetic map of the turkey genome, a map that will serve as a vital resource for the poultry community and other interested scientists around the world," Virginia Tech animal and poultry science researcher Ed Smith said in a statement.

Those involved say information in the turkey genome holds promise for everything from selecting commercially valuable turkey traits (including meat yield and quality) to improving turkey health, disease resistance, and fertility.

"The work funded by this grant will take us a long way towards our longer term goal of discovering ways to improve the immune competence of the turkey," Rami Dalloul, a poultry immunology researcher at Virginia Tech, said in a statement. "It will also provide invaluable information that will help develop new, more effective strategies for disease prevention."

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