The quail genome: insights into social behaviour, seasonal biology and infectious disease response

Katrina M Morris, Matthew M Hindle, Simon Boitard, David W Burt, Angela F Danner, Lel Eory, Heather L Forrest, David Gourichon, Jerome Gros, LaDeana W Hillier, Thierry Jaffredo, Hanane Khoury, Rusty Lansford, Christine Leterrier, Andrew Loudon, Andrew S Mason, Simone L Meddle, Francis Minvielle, Patrick Minx, Frédérique PitelJ Patrick Seiler, Tsuyoshi Shimmura, Chad Tomlinson, Alain Vignal, Robert G Webster, Takashi Yoshimura, Wesley C Warren, Jacqueline Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) is a popular domestic poultry species and an increasingly significant model species in avian developmental, behavioural and disease research.

RESULTS: We have produced a high-quality quail genome sequence, spanning 0.93 Gb assigned to 33 chromosomes. In terms of contiguity, assembly statistics, gene content and chromosomal organisation, the quail genome shows high similarity to the chicken genome. We demonstrate the utility of this genome through three diverse applications. First, we identify selection signatures and candidate genes associated with social behaviour in the quail genome, an important agricultural and domestication trait. Second, we investigate the effects and interaction of photoperiod and temperature on the transcriptome of the quail medial basal hypothalamus, revealing key mechanisms of photoperiodism. Finally, we investigate the response of quail to H5N1 influenza infection. In quail lung, many critical immune genes and pathways were downregulated after H5N1 infection, and this may be key to the susceptibility of quail to H5N1.

CONCLUSIONS: We have produced a high-quality genome of the quail which will facilitate further studies into diverse research questions using the quail as a model avian species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number(2020) 18:14
Number of pages18
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • Coturnix japonica
  • Quail
  • Genome
  • Influenza
  • Seasonality
  • Photoperiod
  • Bird flu
  • H5N1


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