Study on the muscle transcriptome of two diverse Indian backyard poultry breeds acclimatized to different agro-ecological conditions

Mol Biol Rep. 2023 Mar;50(3):2453-2461. doi: 10.1007/s11033-022-08223-1. Epub 2023 Jan 4.


Objective: Free-range (FR) poultry production systems are associated with quality products and improved welfare. All the 19 diverse chicken breeds of India have evolved under the FR system and are adapted to different agro-climatic conditions. It is vital to explore indigenous germplasm with modern genomic tools to have insights into genomic characteristics of production traits and adaptation.

Methods: In this study, breast tissue transcriptome profiles were generated and analyzed from four biological replicates of two indigenous backyard poultry breeds of India-Ankaleshwar, a breed of the mainland, and Nicobari, a breed adapted to islands. The read quality of sequences was checked by FASTQC and processed reads were aligned to the reference genome (bGalGal1).

Results: More than 94% mapping to the reference genome was observed for all samples. A total of 12,790 transcripts were common across both groups, while 657 were expressed only in Ankaleshwar and 169 in Nicobari. The highest expressed genes across both groups were associated mainly with muscle structure, contraction, and energy metabolism. The highly expressed genes identified in Ankaleshwar were involved in fatty acid catabolism and oxidative stress mitigation. Functional terms, pathways, and hub genes in Nicobari participated in muscle fiber growth, adipogenesis, and fatty acid anabolism. A key hub gene (RAC1) in Nicobari is a potential candidate affecting the laying rate in chickens. The qRT-PCR results also substantiate the RNA-seq results.

Conclusion: The findings provide a precious molecular resource to advance understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation, meat quality, and egg production in backyard chickens.

Keywords: Ankaleshwar; Chicken; Comparative transcriptomic; Muscle development; Nicobari.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Fatty Acids
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Poultry* / genetics
  • Transcriptome* / genetics


  • Fatty Acids