Announcement of the chicken genome sequence and genome variation maps


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Beijing, China, March 1, 2004 Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced today the construction of a chicken genome variation map. This research project, which is complementary to the work of an international consortium that is working on a sequence map for the chicken genome, is conducted by an international team led by BGI. The variation map was derived from three different domestic chicken strains, consisting of a broiler strain from the United Kingdom, a layer strain from Sweden, and a Silkie strain from China. Total one-fold genome coverage of sequences was produced for this map and was evenly divided among the three domestic strains. About two million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified. This project was supported by CAS, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Wellcome Trust, UK. The team is comprised of scientists from China, the United States of America, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany.

This announcement is being made simultaneously with the announcement by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the successful assembly of the genome of the Red Jungle Fowl, Gallus gallus, which is the ancestor of domestic chickens. The Gallus gallus sequence data were generated by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis with support from an international team of scientists from across the U.S. and Europe as well as scientists from BGI and served as a reference framework for the genome variation map. The initial assembly, which is based on seven-fold sequence coverage of the chicken genome, has been deposited into the public database, GenBank ( To facilitate comparative genomic analysis, the U.S. researchers also aligned the draft version of the chicken sequence with the human sequence. The U.S. sequencing work was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute, which is part of NIH.

Final analyses of both projects are underway and the results are expected to be published this summer. The data for the chicken variation map have been made available to collaborating scientists and will soon be deposited in public databases. The completion of the chicken genome sequence and genome variation maps paves the way to the understanding of chicken as a model organism for research on vertebrate evolution and human health, and to the improvement of poultry breeding and food safety.

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