Scientists have identified regions in the genetic makeup of chickens that are linked to resistance to Campylobacter, the leading bacterial cause of food-borne gastroenteritis worldwide.
Data obtained in the study inform the extent to which parts of the chicken genetic code can be linked to the prevalence of Campylobacter in the chicken gut.
A study led by researchers from the Roslin Institute, in collaboration with Aviagen, investigated the genetic make-up of 3,000 broiler chickens, to discover whether parts of their genetic code were associated with resistance to Campylobacter colonisation.
This was achieved by looking for variation at specific positions in the chickens’ genome and their association with numbers of Campylobacter in the gut of the birds.
Scientists combined this with analyses of the expression of genes in chickens that were resistant or susceptible to colonisation by the bacteria.
All the chickens were naturally exposed to Campylobacter present in their environment, which mimics how chickens are exposed on a commercial farm.
Campylobacter infections are common in people, who can develop diarrhoea and severe complications after handling or eating contaminated chicken meat.
Each year, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people in the UK are infected, costing the country approximately £50 million.