The vision is to develop a new genetic selection technology based on an effective innate immune response for production of chickens with polyvalent protection against diverse pathogens and increased livability. This will be achieved by identification of important genes and genetic markers in an old Danish chicken line (Hellevad) using modern biotechnology tools including genome-wide association studies.
One single gene Mannose Binding Lectin (MBL) has already been identified as a potential selection marker in this chicken line. Application of high-throughput genotyping based on Sequenom technology will enable the discrimination of chicken MBL genotypes. MBL belongs to the innate part of the immune system and is a key genetic factor in innate polyvalent resistance.
MBL interacts with the acquired immune response which is why unraveling the interaction between MBL and the adaptive part of the immune system is a prerequisite before an integrated MBL selection approach can be applied in the poultry industry where disease protection currently relies on wide usage of vaccinations.
The overall success criteria are:
• That the genetic basis of the robustness in the Hellevad chicken is characterized and developed into a genetic selection approach for breeding chickens.
• That the interaction between MBL and the adaptive immune response is revealed.
• That MBL genotypes determining low disease resistance of chickens are eliminated from Cobb populations.
This will increase animal welfare, food safety, the consumers’ accept, and the industry’s competitiveness