Assessing the genetic diversity of five Tanzanian chicken ecotypes using molecular tools
The study aimed to evaluate the genetic diversity of Tanzanian chicken populations through phylogenetic relationship, and to trace the history of Tanzanian indigenous chickens. Five ecotypes of Tanzanian local chickens (Ching'wekwe, Kuchi, Morogoro-medium, Pemba and Unguja) from eight regions were studied. Diversity was assessed based on morphological measurements and 29 microsatellite markers recommended by ISAG/FAO advisory group on animal genetic diversity. A principal component analysis (PCA) of morphological measures distinguished individuals most by body sizes and body weight. Morogoro Medium, Pemba and Unguja were grouped together, while Ching'wekwe stood out because of their disproportionate short shanks and ulna bones. Kuchi formed an independent group owing to their comparably long body sizes. Microsatellite analysis revealed three clusters of Tanzanian chicken populations. These clusters encompassed i) Morogoro-medium and Ching'wekwe from Eastern and Central Zones ii) Unguja and Pemba from Zanzibar Islands and iii) Kuchi from Lake Zone regions, which formed an independent cluster. Sequence polymorphism of D-loop region was analysed to disclose the likely maternal origin of Tanzanian chickens. According to reference mtDNA haplotypes, the Tanzanian chickens that were sampled encompass two haplogroups of different genealogical origin. From haplotype network analysis, Tanzanian chickens probably originated on the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia. The majority of Kuchi chickens clustered in a single haplogroup, which was previously found in Shamo game birds sampled from Shikoku Island of Japan in the Kochi Prefecture. Analysis of phenotypic and molecular data, as well as the linguistic similarity of the breed names, suggests a recent introduction of the Kuchi breed to Tanzania.