Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Whole genome comparative studies between chicken and turkey and their implications for avian genome evolution

Darren K Griffin1, Lindsay B Robertson16, Helen G Tempest17, Alain Vignal2, Valérie Fillon2, Richard PMA Crooijmans3, Martien AM Groenen3, Svetlana Deryusheva4, Elena Gaginskaya4, Wilfrid Carré5, David Waddington5, Richard Talbot5, Martin Völker1, Julio S Masabanda18 and Dave W Burt59*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NJ, UK

2 Laboratoire de Génétique Cellulaire, Centre INRA de Toulouse, BP 27 Auzeville, 31326 Castanet Tolosan, France

3 Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, Marijkeweg 40, 6709 PG Wageningen, The Netherlands

4 Biological Research Institute, Saint-Petersburg State University, Oranienbaumskoie sch. 2, Stary Peterhof, Saint-Petersburg, 198504, Russia

5 Dept. of Genomics & Bioinformatics, Roslin Institute/Edinburgh University, Midlothian, EH25 9PS, UK

6 Current address : Bridge Genoma, The London Bioscience Innovation Centre, 2 Royal College Street London. NW1 0NH, UK

7 Current address : Department of Medical Genetics, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Dr, NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4N1, Canada

8 Current address : ID LABS(tm) Inc., 100 Collip Circle, Unit 117 London, Ontario, N6G 4X8, Canada

9 Current address : Dept Genomics and Genetics The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies Midlothian EH25 9PS, UK

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:168  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-168

Published: 14 April 2008



Comparative genomics is a powerful means of establishing inter-specific relationships between gene function/location and allows insight into genomic rearrangements, conservation and evolutionary phylogeny. The availability of the complete sequence of the chicken genome has initiated the development of detailed genomic information in other birds including turkey, an agriculturally important species where mapping has hitherto focused on linkage with limited physical information. No molecular study has yet examined conservation of avian microchromosomes, nor differences in copy number variants (CNVs) between birds.


We present a detailed comparative cytogenetic map between chicken and turkey based on reciprocal chromosome painting and mapping of 338 chicken BACs to turkey metaphases. Two inter-chromosomal changes (both involving centromeres) and three pericentric inversions have been identified between chicken and turkey; and array CGH identified 16 inter-specific CNVs.


This is the first study to combine the modalities of zoo-FISH and array CGH between different avian species. The first insight into the conservation of microchromosomes, the first comparative cytogenetic map of any bird and the first appraisal of CNVs between birds is provided. Results suggest that avian genomes have remained relatively stable during evolution compared to mammalian equivalents.