NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – An international team of researchers has started sequencing the turkey genome, Virginia Tech’s Virginia Bioinformatics Institute announced today.
The Turkey Genome Sequencing Consortium, which includes researchers from Virginia Tech, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Utah State University, and the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, plans to sequence the genome of the domesticated turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) using the Roche GS-FLX platform and the Roche GS FLX Titanium PicoTiterPlate device and reagents. The genome will be assembled with shotgun fragments and both short and long paired-end reads.
During the pilot phase of the project, researchers plan to generate two-fold coverage of the turkey genome at VBI’s Core Laboratory Facility. Eventually, they hope to sequence more than 95 percent of the genome.
Funding for the pilot phase of the project was provided by consortium members, VBI Associate Director of Technology Development Otto Folkerts said in a statement. Roche Applied Sciences is reportedly providing in-kind support. Folkerts said the team intends to go after federal and industry support for a full sequencing effort next year.
The goal is to get genetic and genomic information that helps breeders improve commercial turkey breeds — unraveling the genetics of traits such as meat yield and quality, disease resistance, fertility, and more.
“Having the turkey genome sequence at hand will help uncover disease-resistance and immune-related genes that can then be targeted to improve our understanding of disease development in the context of host-pathogen interactions,” Rami Dalloul, a poultry immunologist at Virginia Tech, said in a statement. “Such discoveries will help direct our efforts to enhance the turkey immune competence and develop new, more effective disease-prevention strategies.”
Once they have the assembled genome sequence in hand, the researchers will be able to integrate turkey research tools — such as genetic linkage and cytogenetic maps, ESTs, predicted protein and gene sequences and regulatory regions — and develop new tools such as high-throughput gene expression arrays and marker maps. They also plan to compare the turkey and chicken genomes to look at the similarities and differences in their organization.
“We have learned much from studies that compare the genetic map of the turkey genome with the chicken whole genome sequence,” University of Minnesota researcher Kent Reed said in a statement. “This effort will not only provide information on the turkey genome, but will benefit the chicken genome sequence as well.”
The assembled and annotated turkey genome sequence will be made freely available to the research community and will be publicly released to GenBank.