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Animal Breeding, Genetics, & Genomics

Genes Identified to Enhance Preharvest Food Safety Efforts Against Salmonella

Salmonella enteritidis not only makes poultry sick, but it can contaminate meat and eggs, causing foodborne illness in humans. Over the years, NIFA has provided significant funding support to address this critical issue for both animal and human health.

To enhance the health and welfare of animals, and to protect the human food supply from microbial contamination, several new genes were identified to be associated with Salmonella colonization (bacterial growth) in chickens. Candidate genes were identified by two strategies. A genome scan using microsatellites provided by the U.S. Poultry Genome Coordinators revealed several regions of the chicken genome that controlled resistance. The chicken genome map provided the location of specific genes in those regions to be tested.

Using a comparative genomics approach, genes that were associated with bacterial resistance on other species were then evaluated in poultry for genetic sequence variation. Once the variation in chicken genes was determined, the associations of that DNA variation with resistance could be established. Using molecular markers for the genetic variation that naturally occurs in breeding populations, commercial chickens can now be produced that have stronger natural ability to resist Salmonella infection, thus helping to protect the nation's food supply against bacterial contamination.

Contact: Susan J. Lamont, Professor, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.


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