A global analysis of molecular markers and phenotypic traits in local chicken breeds in Taiwan

20 February 2013

Molecular and phenotypic data have been combined to characterize the genetic diversity of six local chicken breeds maintained with a long-term conservation programme. Hua-Tung, Hsin-Yi, Ju-Chi and Quemoy originated from Taiwan, Shek-Ki is from South China, and Nagoya is from Japan. Molecular tools included 24 microsatellite markers, melanocortin 1 receptor (alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone receptor) (MC1R), the LEI0258 marker located within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), and mitochondrial DNA. Performance was recorded on the same individuals for body weight, panting rate in summer and antibody response (antigens: Newcastle disease virus and sheep red blood cells). A multivariate method previously proposed for taxonomy was used to combine the different data sets. Melanocortin 1 receptor (alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone receptor) and the MCW330 marker contributed the most to the first axis of the multiple coinertia analysis of molecular markers. Melanocortin 1 receptor (alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone receptor) showed evidence of selection, probably related to its effect on feather colour. The MHC exhibited a large diversity, with 16 alleles of the LEI0258 marker. Immune response traits contributed the most to the principal component analysis of phenotypic data. Eight mitochondrial DNA haplotypes related to clades A, B, C and E were distributed across breeds and revealed an important contribution of Indian and European breeds to Ju-Chi, Quemoy and Hsin-Yi. Phenotypic data contributed less than molecular data to the combined analysis, and two markers, LEI0258 and LEI0228, contributed the most. The combined analysis could clearly discriminate all breeds, except Ju- Chi, which was similar to Quemoy for many criteria, except immune response.