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Enhancing the egg's natural defence against bacterial penetration by increasing cuticle deposition

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    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the article which has been published in final form at 10.1111/age.12071 . This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-668
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number6
Early online date10 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2013


The cuticle is a proteinaceous layer covering the avian egg and is believed to form a defence to microorganism ingress. In birds that lay eggs in challenging environments, the cuticle is thicker, suggesting evolutionary pressure; however, in poultry, selection pressure for this trait has been removed because of artificial incubation. This study aimed to quantify cuticle deposition and to estimate its genetic parameters and its role on trans-shell penetration of bacteria. Additionally, cuticle proteins were characterised to establish whether alleles for these genes explained variation in deposition. A novel and reliable quantification was achieved using the difference in reflectance of the egg at 650nm before and after staining with a specific dye. The heritability of this novel measurement was moderate (0.27), and bacteria penetration was dependent on the natural variation in cuticle deposition. Eggs with the best cuticle were never penetrated by bacteria (P

    Research areas

  • chicken, eggshell, risk, genetics, heritability

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