interests are in the study of
genome and chromosome structure, function and evolution. Past studies
examined chromosomal structure at the gross karyological and molecular
levels and the effects of various types of chromosomal rearrangements
on meiotic fitness. Current studies focus on comparative and
functional genomics of poultry (turkey) and mammals.
My primary research has the development of genomic resources for the turkey. This project provides a comprehensive approach to develop a high-resolution genetic map of this species. Key to this end has been applictaion of chicken genomic resources such as the whole-genome sequence and INRA chicken radiation hybrid panel. The long-term research strategy includes development of genetic markers, expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for construct of a detailed genetic map and analysis of production and disease resistance traits.
its significant economic importance,
the turkey is one of the few agriculturally important species for which
no genomic maps had been constructed. Commodity representatives
identify genomics as a top priority. Specifically, of key importance is
in how genomic information can be integrated into production systems
addressing economical issues associated with animal production. Newly
can be used to identify and map genes associated with these
Development of new
markers and a comprehensive turkey linkage map has improved our ability to
determine the genetic location of QTLs with significant effects on
traits and disease susceptibility in this species as well as enhance
investigations in the chicken. Construction of the turkey genetic
map relied on a reference population constructed through a
commitment from the turkey industry and funding from the USDA. We are now
part of an international consortium that has begun sequencing the turkey
The search for genes associated
and disease susceptibility in turkey is currently hampered by the lack
of genomic resources. Identification of genes associated with
to this disease alone would greatly impact the industry. In addition to
lowering production costs, genetic enhancement of the immune response
increase vaccine efficacy thereby reducing drug residues in food.
We are currently sequencing the B- and RFP-Y loci of the turkey MHC in order
develop genetic tools to this end. Better
utilization of genetic information, including basic diagnostic tools
as genetic markers and linkage maps, can enhance commercial flocks
the selection of genetically superior animals.
Turkeys are possibly the most susceptible animal species known to the toxic effects of Aflatoxin B1. Aflatoxin B1 was discovered in the early 1960s as the etiological agent of “Turkey X” disease, responsible for the widespread deaths of turkeys and other poultry throughout Europe. We are collaborating with Dr. Coulombe's lab at Utah State University to investigate the genetic-basis for this susceptibility.
A secondary emphasis of my research is examining a candidate gene for choanal atresia, a usually fatal developmental condition in alpaca and llama. Working with collaborators here at the University of Minnesota, we hope to identify gene mutations responsible for this condition. This project is funded by the Morris Animal Foundation.