Selection Markers in Endocrine Genes
The domestic chicken serves as a major source of high-quality protein for humans. Decades of intensive genetic selection have led to remarkable growth rate and feed efficiency of commercial broiler chickens. However, the rigorous genetic selection for growth rate has led to increased adiposity, skeletal deformities, and disorders of metabolism and reproduction. Excess visceral fat in today's commercial broilers has a negative impact on feed efficiency and also human health maladies. UGA poultry scientists designed an experiment to identify genes associated with accumulation of visceral fat in chickens. Enhanced expression of endocrine-signaling genes in diminished abdominal fat of low growth chickens provides insight into genetic mechanisms involved in visceral fatness. Genetic markers developed in these genes can assist selection programs to breed for leaner chickens.