Genetic analysis of a commercial egg laying line challenged with Newcastle disease virus

Kaylee Rowland, Anna Wolc, Rodrigo A Gallardo, Terra Kelly, Huaijun Zhou, Jack C.M. Dekkers, Susan J. Lamont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In low income countries, chickens play a vital role in daily life. They provide a critical source of protein through egg production and meat. Newcastle disease, caused by avian paramyxovirus type 1, has been ranked as the most devastating disease for scavenging chickens in Africa and Asia. High mortality among flocks infected with velogenic strains leads to a devastating loss of dietary protein and buying power for rural households. Improving the genetic resistance of chickens to Newcastle Disease virus (NDV), in addition to vaccination, is a practical target for improvement of poultry production in low income countries. Because response to NDV has a component of genetic control, it can be influenced through selective breeding. Adding genomic information to a breeding program can increase the amount of genetic progress per generation. In this study, we challenged a commercial egg-laying line with a lentogenic strain of NDV, measured phenotypic responses, collected genotypes, and associated genotypes with phenotypes. Collected phenotypes included viral load at 2 and 6 days post-infection (dpi), antibody levels pre-challenge and 10 dpi, and growth rates pre- and post-challenge. Six suggestive QTL associated with response to NDV and/or growth were identified, including novel and known QTL confirming previously reported associations with related traits. Additionally, previous RNA-seq analysis provided support for several of the genes located in or near the identified QTL. Considering the trend of negative genetic correlation between antibody and Newcastle Disease tolerance (growth under disease) and estimates of moderate to high heritability, we provide evidence that these NDV response traits can be influenced through selective breeding. Producing chickens that perform favorably in challenging environments will ultimately increase the supply of quality protein for human consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number326
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - Aug 20 2018


  • Disease challenge
  • Genetic parameters
  • GWAS
  • Immune response
  • Newcastle disease virus
  • Poultry
  • QTL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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