Genome editing in poultry - opportunities and impacts
Poultry products (meat and eggs) are a major source of animal protein on which the world is increasingly reliant to feed a rapidly growing population. Improved breeds and advances in farm management practices have had a large impact on the poultry industry. For example, using current genetic stock and production practices, broiler chickens can weigh 2 kg in about 34 days. Forty-five years ago it would have typically taken over 60 days. These impressive advances have been made using traditional selective breeding methods and more recently by using genomics. Now, with the availability of precision genome engineering tools there are new opportunities to improve poultry production above and beyond those achievable by traditional means. One major opportunity is disease resilience, particularly for viral diseases such as avian influenza that has devastating impacts on the poultry industry. Resilience to specific diseases can be a notoriously difficult trait to select for using traditional breeding and the latest technologies that precisely edit the genome have created new ways to address this challenge.
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