The humble chicken has provided humanity with meat, eggs, and wake-up calls for centuries, and new research probing the bird's DNA may point to an expansion of another role for the flightless fowl: biomedical model organism.
Image: Michael Gäbler via Wikipedia Commons
Uppsala University functional genomicist linkurl:Leif Andersson; and colleagues used cutting-edge sequencing technology to comb the chicken genome and identified some genetic signatures of domestication, according to a study published today (10th March) on Nature's website. These genetic signatures code for traits that make domestic chickens useful as egg or meat producers, but in humans, changes to homologous genes can lead to complex "lifestyle diseases" -- such as obesity and diabetes. This suggests that biomedical researchers may be able to use the domesticated chicken to research these conditions. Scientists already use the chicken to study some human diseases, and this study suggests the animal could become even more important...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?