Maternal genealogical patterns of chicken breeds sampled in Europe

C. M. Lyimo, A. Weigend, P. L. Msoffe, P. M. Hocking, H. Simianer, S. Weigend*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate the maternal genealogical pattern of chicken breeds sampled in Europe. Sequence polymorphisms of 1256 chickens of the hypervariable region (D-loop) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) were used. Median-joining networks were constructed to establish evolutionary relationships among mtDNA haplotypes of chickens, which included a wide range of breeds with different origin and history. Chicken breeds which have had their roots in Europe for more than 3000 years were categorized by their founding regions, encompassing Mediterranean type, East European type and Northwest European type. Breeds which were introduced to Europe from Asia since the mid-19th century were classified as Asian type, and breeds based on crossbreeding between Asian breeds and European breeds were classified as Intermediate type. The last group, Game birds, included fighting birds from Asia. The classification of mtDNA haplotypes was based on Liu et al.'s (2006) nomenclature. Haplogroup E was the predominant clade among the European chicken breeds. The results showed, on average, the highest number of haplotypes, highest haplotype diversity, and highest nucleotide diversity for Asian type breeds, followed by Intermediate type chickens. East European and Northwest European breeds had lower haplotype and nucleotide diversity compared to Mediterranean, Intermediate, Game and Asian type breeds. Results of our study support earlier findings that chicken breeds sampled in Europe have their roots in the Indian subcontinent and East Asia. This is consistent with historical and archaeological evidence of chicken migration routes to Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-451
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Chickens in Europe
  • Haplotype diversity
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Nucleotide diversity


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