The native Colombian chicken, what does genetics say?
UN Scientists in Palmira analyzed the morphology and genetics of these birds in the Colombian Provinces of Putumayo, Valle del Cauca, Chocó and Nariño, finding three large groups each with their own distinctive characteristics.Palmira, 12 de abril de 2012 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
The research was carried out at peasant poultry farms in the Provinces of Nariño, Putumayo, Chocó and Valle del Cauca.
Backyard poultry farming is a traditional and important food production method employed by peasant families on the property around their houses. This is one way in which they have historically put food on the table.
Researchers from both the Animal Genetics Resource (GIRZ, for its Spanish acronym) and the Biological Diversity (GIDB, for its Spanish acronym) research groups at UN-Palmira have studied hundreds of native Colombian chickens in order to identify the characteristics that make them hardier than genetically altered chickens.
“The native, or creole chicken differs from their genetically modified cousins in several respects. In comparison they have several advantages including increased ruggedness, stronger maternal instincts, better adaptability, excellent reproductive capacity and resilience to diseases. These birds are also known for the organoleptic properties of their meat, thereby offering superior flavor”, says Professor Luz Ángela Álvarez, GIRZ Director.
However, our understanding of the diversity and phenotypic traits of these birds is far from complete. Therefore, researchers have begun a project to find out more about the morphological features, and to research the genetic diversity of our homegrown chickens, Gallus domesticus.
During community gatherings, and with assistance from the Pacific Environmental Research Institute (IIAP, for its Spanish acronym), the chickens of 62 producers from the Provinces of Nariño, Putumayo, Chocó and Valle del Cauca were surveyed. One hundred twenty three birds were analyzed using morphological and molecular markers at the Animal Genetics Laboratory at UN-Palmira.
“For the morphological assessment we used a visual technique with help from photographical references, and using ten distinct qualitative features. These were feather morphology, feather distribution, feather pattern, feather color, tarsus (lower leg) color, ear lobe color, type of crest, size of crest, eye color and other skeletal variables.” Also the color of the ears (red or white) and the presence of feathers on the shanks, cheeks or forehead, might indicate that modern Colombian chickens are descended from Mediterranean and Asiatic ancestors. The diversity of feather colors and adornments, which are part of the evolutionary process and natural selection, is the reason why the species has survived from generation to generation”, says Herman Revelo, the zootechnical student who carried out the research.
“The Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) clearly showed three groups of native chickens, each one with particular traits. The first group is comprised of individuals from the Dubasa River in the Province of Chocó, the second with animals from Puerto Meluc and Bahía Solano, and the last from birds coming from the Provinces of Putumayo, Nariño and Valle del Cauca”, adds Professor Álvarez.
For the group, this project is the basis for future research with native chickens, as they now have a characterization and a genetic diversity research base.(Por: Fin/jcr/sup/vbr