Genome-wide standing variation facilitates long-term response to bidirectional selection for antibody response in chickens


Background Long-term selection experiments provide a powerful approach to gain empirical insights into adaptation, allowing researchers to uncover the targets of selection and infer their contributions to the mode and tempo of adaptation. Here we implement a pooled genome re-sequencing approach to investigate the consequences of 39 generations of bidirectional selection in White Leghorn chickens on a humoral immune trait: antibody response to sheep red blood cells.

Results We observed wide genome involvement in response to this selection regime. Many genomic regions were highly differentiated resulting from this experimental selection regime, an involvement of up to 20% of the chicken genome (208.8 Mb). While genetic drift has certainly contributed to this, we implement gene ontology, association analysis and population simulations to increase our confidence in candidate selective sweeps. Three strong candidate genes, MHC, SEMA5A and TGFBR2, are also presented.

Conclusions The extensive genomic changes highlight the polygenic genetic architecture of antibody response in these chicken populations, which are derived from a common founder population, demonstrating the extent of standing immunogenetic variation available at the onset of selection.




BMC Genomics. 2017 Jan 18;18(1):99