The SYNBREED chicken diversity panel: a global resource to assess chicken diversity at high genomic resolution
Background Since domestication, chickens did not only disperse into the different parts of the world but they have also undergone significant genomic changes in this process. Many breeds, strains or lines have been formed and those represent the diversity of the species. However, other than the natural evolutionary forces, management practices (including those that threaten the persistence of genetic diversity) following domestication have shaped the genetic make-up of and diversity between today’s chicken breeds. As part of the SYNBREED project, samples from a wide variety of chicken populations have been collected across the globe and were genotyped with a high density SNP array. The panel consists of the wild type, commercial layers and broilers, indigenous village/local type and fancy chicken breeds. The SYNBREED chicken diversity panel (SCDP) is made available to serve as a public basis to study the genetic structure of chicken diversity. In the current study we analyzed the genetic diversity between and within the populations in the SCDP, which is important for making informed decisions for effective management of farm animal genetic resources. Results Many of the fancy breeds cover a wide spectrum and clustered with other breeds of similar supposed origin as shown by the phylogenetic tree and principal component analysis. However, the fancy breeds as well as the highly selected commercial layer lines have reduced genetic diversity within the population, with the average observed heterozygosity estimates lower than 0.205 across their breeds’ categories and the average proportion of polymorphic loci lower than 0.680. We show that there is still a lot of genetic diversity preserved within the wild and less selected African, South American and some local Asian and European breeds with the average observed heterozygosity greater than 0.225 and the average proportion of polymorphic loci larger than 0.720 within their breeds’ categories. Conclusions It is important that such highly diverse breeds are maintained for the sustainability and flexibility of future chicken breeding. This diversity panel provides opportunities for exploitation for further chicken molecular genetic studies. With the possibility to further expand, it constitutes a very useful community resource for chicken genetic diversity research.