Poultry genomics puts meat on the table.
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Why did the chicken cross the road, you ask? Because the draft sequence of its genome has been released, silly. So, along with other ‘bird enthusiasts’ and advocates, those long involved in chicken genetics and genetic studies of birds came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), 8–11 May 2005, for the 3rd Chicken Genomics Workshop to pat each other on the back for the recently released draft sequence (International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2004), compare notes, review progress, and plan for the road ahead! Never mind that the meeting preceded, perhaps as a convenience or, to a cynic, just ‘being chicken’ (an inability to ‘stand alone’?), the annual ‘Biology of Genomes’ meeting: these scientists did not shy away from the ‘chicken jokes’ or from making a strong case for why their work ranks up there with other tractable biomedical models. Joking aside, many speakers at the chicken meeting also attended or were part of ‘Biology of Genomes’, so the chicken is now clearly recognized as a model genome and of great value in evolutionary comparisons. Scientific presentations included the usual staples at genome meetings, such as SNPs, sequence to function, QTL identification and expression profiling. They also included novel talks about gynandromorphs, endogenous viral elements, transgenesis, developmental mutants and signalling pathways. The gathering represented a culmination and a celebration of a vision that started with the partnership between Jerry Dodgson, Michigan State, and Lyman Crittenden, USDA–ARS, as well as the efforts of several European scientists, including the late Nat Bumstead, Martien Groenen (Wageningen) and Dave Burt (Roslin Institute). It was appropriate that the meeting ended with an exploration by the chicken community of ‘what now?