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Vietnamese chickens: a gate towards Asian genetic diversity

C Berthouly-Salazar16*, X Rognon23, T Nhu Van4, M Gély1, C Vu Chi4, M Tixier-Boichard3, B Bed'Hom3, N Bruneau3, E Verrier23, JC Maillard1 and JR Michaux56

Author Affiliations

1 CIRAD, UPR AGIRS, Campus International de Baillarguet, F-34398 Montpellier, France

2 AgroParisTech, UMR1313 Génétique animale et biologie intégrative F-75005 Paris, France

3 INRA, UMR1313 Génétique animale et biologie intégrative, F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France

4 NIAH, Tu Liem, Ha Noi, Vietnam

5 Institut de Botanique (Bat. 22), University of Liège, 4000, Liège, Belgium

6 Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations (CBGP), UMR 1062, Campus International de Baillarguet, CS 30016, F-34988, Montferrier le Lez, France

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BMC Genetics 2010, 11:53  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-11-53

Published: 18 June 2010



Chickens represent an important animal genetic resource and the conservation of local breeds is an issue for the preservation of this resource. The genetic diversity of a breed is mainly evaluated through its nuclear diversity. However, nuclear genetic diversity does not provide the same information as mitochondrial genetic diversity. For the species Gallus gallus, at least 8 maternal lineages have been identified. While breeds distributed westward from the Indian subcontinent usually share haplotypes from 1 to 2 haplogroups, Southeast Asian breeds exhibit all the haplogroups. The Vietnamese Ha Giang (HG) chicken has been shown to exhibit a very high nuclear diversity but also important rates of admixture with wild relatives. Its geographical position, within one of the chicken domestication centres ranging from Thailand to the Chinese Yunnan province, increases the probability of observing a very high genetic diversity for maternal lineages, and in a way, improving our understanding of the chicken domestication process.


A total of 106 sequences from Vietnamese HG chickens were first compared to the sequences of published Chinese breeds. The 25 haplotypes observed in the Vietnamese HG population belonged to six previously published haplogroups which are: A, B, C, D, F and G. On average, breeds from the Chinese Yunnan province carried haplotypes from 4.3 haplogroups. For the HG population, haplogroup diversity is found at both the province and the village level (0.69).

The AMOVA results show that genetic diversity occurred within the breeds rather than between breeds or provinces. Regarding the global structure of the mtDNA diversity per population, a characteristic of the HG population was the occurrence of similar pattern distribution as compared to G. gallus spadiceus. However, there was no geographical evidence of gene flow between wild and domestic populations as observed when microsatellites were used.


In contrast to other chicken populations, the HG chicken population showed very high genetic diversity at both the nuclear and mitochondrial levels. Due to its past and recent history, this population accumulates a specific and rich gene pool highlighting its interest and the need for conservation.