Study using genetic lines of Virginia Tech chickens reveals evolution happens faster than thought
A critical component of an experiment that proved evolution happens 15 times faster than was previously believed relied on genetic lines of chickens from Virginia Tech.
The discovery that was published recently in the journal Biology Letters utilized the DNA of lines of White Plymouth Rock chickens that have been developed at the university for more than 50 years.
“This experiment and many others involving everything from animal appetites to genetics could never have been done without the pedigree lines,” said Paul Siegel, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Animal and Poultry Sciences, who, along with Ben Dorshorst and Christa Honaker, was a co-author on the paper.
The pedigree lines of White Plymouth Rock chickens were developed by Siegel, who began breeding them in 1957. From the common founder population, he produced two distinct lines of chickens selected for high- and low-body weight.
In the latest experiment, researchers analyzed blood samples of chickens of the same generation using the most distantly related maternal lines to reconstruct how the mitochondrial DNA passed from mothers to daughters.