Science - December 9, 2004

Hat-trick in Nature

Two researchers from the Animal Breeding and Genetics group achieved an unusual first this week. They are co-authors of three articles about the chicken genome that appear in the 9 December edition of Nature. According to the library this is the first real Wageningen hat trick in this prestigious journal.

The publications in Nature mark a new milestone: the unravelling of the first bird genome, as well as that of the first farm animal, thanks to the efforts of an international consortium of over 170 researchers. ‘The publications are the reward of more than ten years’ work for our group,’ said Professor Martien Groenen, who holds a personal chair at the Animal Breeding and Genetics group, and a member of the steering group of the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium, as well as co-author of all three articles. ‘We decided back in 1995 to focus our molecular work on the chicken, and it turned out to be a good decision.’ According to Groenen, the publication of the DNA sequence and a detailed gene map of the chicken is not the end of the line, but rather opens up all sorts of opportunities for breeding as well as fundamental research. It will be researchers in the fields of evolution and embryology, for whom the chicken is a key organism, that will benefit from the developments. ‘There’s enough for me to look forward to, but if I’m honest: three times in Nature probably only happens once in a lifetime.’ / GvM

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