The three-year project is funded by BBSRC and UK poultry breeding company Aviagen, and aims to provide the knowledge and tools to breed campylobacter-resistant chickens in the future.
The study’s lead professor, Peter Kaiser from Edinburgh-based The Roslin Institute, said: “We already know from our previous work with non-commercial birds that some chickens are able to reduce the levels of bacterium in their guts by 10,000-fold relative to other breeds. We have already identified four regions of the genome that contribute to this resistance. This new research programme should allow us to locate the actual genes responsible for this increased resistance.“
Our work offers the potential to develop a quick and targeted approach to breeding poultry that are more resistant to campylobacter colonisation and so prevent it from entering the food chain.”
BBSRC estimates that campylobacter is responsible for over 300,000 cases of food poisoning a year in England and Wales, costing up to £600m to the UK economy. The organisation’s chief executive Professor Douglas Kell said: “The food security challenge facing us is not just about ensuring there is enough food to feed the rising global population, but that the food we produce is as safe as possible. This new research highlights the essential role cutting-edge bioscience can play in addressing such issues.”