Two silkie chickens, sometimes called "black boned chicken" in China
A recent study by Feng Zhu, Zhong-Tao Yin, Qiang-Sen Zhao, Yun-Xiao Sun, Yu-Chen Jie was set out to sequence the genes of metabolic, reproductive and immunity of silkie chickens and provide it to the public. The research aimed to discover more of the genetic makeup of chickens, specifically the silkie breed by comparing the genetic sequences of 8 males and 7 females. This would help determine hidden or unknown genes within chickens, that could be potentially be observed in other breeds. After obtaining the genetic sequence of the silkie chickens, it was compared to the publicly available genomes of other chicken breeds. The researchers had noticed more than 285 protein-coding genes in the silkie chickens that had not been discovered. The researched have now refuted the assumption of small genetic mutation for certain traits due to the large genomic structure and genetic variation. The results also contradict the previous belief that the silkie chickens do not have a protein-coding gene that improves its immunity to certain diseases.
I find it very interesting how much information can be discovered by obtaining the genetic sequences of an animal. It could have been possible that the 285 protein-coding genes would never have been observed without the genetic sequence. The sequence also helps give a more definitive answer instead of relying on an assumption, such as the assumption that the chickens lacked a gene to help immunity with certain diseases. The genetic sequences could be used to further improve egg and poultry production, and to help keep chickens healthier.