A team led by Richard Wilson, Ph.D., from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis successfully assembled the genome of the Red Jungle Fowl, Gallus gallus, which is the ancestor of domestic chickens. Comprised of about 1 billion DNA base pairs, the chicken genome is the first avian genome to be sequenced.
The Washington University researchers have deposited the initial assembly, which is based on seven-fold sequence coverage of the chicken genome, into the public database, GenBank (www.ncbi.nih.gov/Genbank). In turn, GenBank will distribute the sequence data to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Nucleotide Sequence Database, EMBL-Bank (www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/index.html), and the DNA Data Bank of Japan, DDBJ (www.ddbj.nig.ac.jp).
To facilitate comparative genomic analysis, the researchers also have aligned the draft version of the chicken sequence with the human sequence. Those alignments can be scanned using the University of California, Santa Cruz's Genome Browser, (http://genome.ucsc.edu/cgi-bin/hgGateway); the National Center for Biotechnology Information's Map Viewer, (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mapview); and the European Bioinformatics Institute's Ensembl system, (http://www.ensembl.org/).
Sequencing of the chicken genome began in March 2003. NHGRI provided about $13 million in funding for the project.