The wild species genome ancestry of domestic chickens

Raman Akinyanju Lawal, Simon Martin, Koen Vanmechelen, Addie Vereijken, Pradeepa Silva, Raed Mahmoud Al-Atiyat, Riyadh Salah Aljumaah, Joram M Mwacharo, Dong-Dong Wu, Ya-Ping Zhang, Paul Hocking, Jacqueline Smith, David Wragg, Olivier Hanotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hybridization and introgression play key roles in the evolutionary history of animal species. They are commonly observed within several orders in wild birds. The domestic chicken Gallus gallus domesticus is the commonest livestock species exploited for the benefit of mankind. More than 65 billion chickens are raised annually to produce meat and 80 million metric tons of egg for global human consumption by the commercial sector. Unravelling the origin of its genetic diversity has major application for sustainable breeding improvement programs.
In this study, we report genome-wide analyses for signatures of introgression between indigenous domestic village chicken and the four wild Gallus species. We first assess the genome-wide phylogeny and divergence time across the genus Gallus. Genome-wide sequence divergence analysis supports a sister relationship between the Grey junglefowl G. sonneratii and Ceylon junglefowl G. lafayettii. Both species form a clade that is sister to the Red junglefowl G. gallus, with the Green junglefowl G. varius the most ancient lineage within the genus. We reveal extensive bidirectional introgression between the Grey junglefowl and the domestic chicken and to a much less extent with the Ceylon junglefowl. We identify a single case of Green junglefowl introgression. These introgressed regions include biological functions related to the development and immune system.
Our study shows that while the Red junglefowl is the main ancestral species, introgressive hybridization episodes have impacted the genome and contributed to the diversity of the domestic chicken, although, likely, at a different level across its geographic range
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Biology
Early online date12 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Feb 2020


  • : Chicken introgression
  • genetic diversity
  • chicken domestication
  • livestock species,
  • divergence time
  • Gallus species
  • interspecies hybridization
  • Galliformes
  • speciation
  • evolution


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