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Revista Chilena de Ornitología 22(1): 126-132
Unión de Ornitólogos de Chile 2016
Etno–ornitología e historia de la gallina mapuche
1Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago,
RESUMEN.– El estado de conservación de la gallina mapuche, que incluye los subtipos collonca y quetro, es-
taba seriamente amenazado a nes del siglo pasado. Su presencia en comunidades mapuche en la Región de La
Araucanía era escasa y su empleo en rogativas como el Nguillatun era solo esporádico y desconocido para las
nuevas generaciones. En este trabajo se da cuenta de su etno–ornitología, su historia y del modo de herencia de
sus caracteres morfológicos, que podrían explicar la alarmante disminución de su población durante el siglo pa-
sado, y su recuperación sostenida durante los últimos años. Prospecciones a principios de este siglo (2000–2004)
daban cuenta de individuos aislados dentro de planteles caseros en localidades rurales apartadas. El tipo más
escaso era la gallina quetro (con aretes), presente solamente en cinco localidades, todas ellas fuera de la Región
de La Araucanía. La conservación ex situ por clubes especializados en Norteamérica y Europa, a partir de un
reducido número de individuos importados durante la primera mitad del siglo XX ha seguido directrices de ex-
hibición más que de preservación genética de la raza. El rescate y multiplicación de ejemplares remanentes y su
reintroducción a comunidades mapuche, junto al apoyo en difusión por programas de televisión, han potenciado
una rápida revalorización de colloncas y quetros, y sobre todo una importante recuperación de la memoria ances-
tral de su rol para el pueblo mapuche.
Manuscrito recibido el 14 de febrero de 2015, aceptado el 19 de mayo de 2015.
When I was studying a postgraduate degree at
Reading (United Kingdom) back in 1998, I was contacted
by the Secretary of the Araucana Poultry Club of Great
Britain (, which gathers some 300
fanciers of the Mapuche fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus
L.) from Chilean origin. Their distinctive blue or green
eggs, sold in exclusive stores in London, indicate how
much the British appreciate genetic diversity and conser-
vation of the Mapuche fowl. They are highly regarded by
their breeders and fanciers for their rusticity and adapta-
tion to hostile weather such as that of the British Isles.
Also they appreciate their remote provenance from the
Mapuche people, who were never conquered by the Span-
ish, and so had the least opportunity to interbreed their
livestock with incoming European breeds (Roberts 1997).
As I was delivering an invited speech on the Ma-
puche fowl abroad to members of the Mapuche commu-
nities from around Villarrica (La Araucanía Region) at the
Pontical Catholic University of Chile in 2001, I could
perceive a special and unexpected pride among those
present. At that time, few young Mapuche spoke their na-
tive Mapuzungun language, and were uninterested in the
‘relatos’ (stories) of their grandparents about religious cer-
emonies in which the Mapuche hen plays a central sym-
bolic role. That same year, Itziar Cerdán, a student from
Universidad Pública de Navarra (Spain), took a census of
Mapuche fowl in the communities around Villarrica, nd-
ing only a few colloncas (rumpless) and a total absence of
quetros (with ear tufts) (Cerdán 2001). A similar situation
was observed among the Mapuche Lafquenche (meaning
people from the coast) area between Cañete and Tirúa,
some 100 km south of the Arauco Peninsula in 2004,
where the blue egg trait together with rumplessness were
scarce, and ear tufts were completely absent.
A wider search between Cabildo (32°25’S
71°04’W) and Osorno (40°35’S 73°06’W) by the au-
thor (J.A. Alcalde, unpublished results), found quetro
specimens as isolated individuals in peasant farm ocks,
though not necessarily in Mapuche households, nor within
the La Araucanía Region. As will be explained later, the
low number of these quetro chickens is associated with
the lethal character of the gene responsible for this trait,
and the need for express anthropic selection when bred
in mixture with other chickens. Lost knowledge about the
trait together with difculties in recognizing ear tufts as
different from muffs and beard, had led to a critical scarci-
ty of quetros, estimated at 30–40 individuals.
During the lming of an episode of the television
program ‘Tierra Adentro’ in the Mapuche Lafkenche area,
I took a young quetro cockerel as a present to José Manuel
Rebolledo (Forestry Engineer and prominent promoter of
the Mapuche fowl in Arauco). I had bred this quetro from
a rooster I found by the central train station in Santiago,
who’s provenance was Alhué, a location south of Melipil-
la in the Metropolitan Region. The Patriarch, as he named
it, was the founder of a breeding nucleus with two or three
collonca hens given as present to him by women from the
Lafkenche communities. New additions to the breeding
stock followed, with quetro and collonca males and fe-
males found nearby. Rebolledo bred several couples to
be re–introduced to eleven communities in the Lafkenche
area, following long conversations with the old people,
in order to collect as much information as possible about
the cultural signicance of the Mapuche fowl, to ensure
successful reintroduction.
These re–introductions, backed by divulgation of
the Mapuche fowl sponsored by television programs that
followed, were very successful and the number of collon-
cas and quetros has steadily increased ever since in that
area and beyond. The aim of this article is to give a brief re-
port of the experiences, people and facts that have allowed
a re–valuation and recovery of the Mapuche fowl and its
role in Mapuche culture. The hypothesis behind this work
is that the physical presence of this fowl in Mapuche com-
munities can assist or catalyze the recovery of the ancestral
remembrance associated with it, which passes on to the
newer generations. This hypothesis is backed by the mutu-
al dependence between biodiversity and cultural diversity,
where a loss of cultural knowledge can reduce agricultural
biodiversity, and very probably the inverse process is also
true (Soriano, cited by Castro & Romo 2006). This article
reviews what is known to date about the ethno–ornitholo-
gy of the Mapuche fowl, part of which has been collected
by the author and collaborators after reintroducing chicken
specimens to Mapuche communities. It also covers how
the inheritance of the main traits associated with the Ma-
puche fowl may have inuenced its abundance, decline
and recovery alongside historical facts, and ends with an
account of its present status of conservation.
In the context of this work, ‘ethno–ornithology’
deals with the signicance that some birds have for human
cultures. The Western world gives the domestic chicken a
role as food source of meat and eggs, but for some Poly-
nesian and South American cultures the chicken addition-
ally has religious and symbolic signicance. For example,
Polynesians from the Society Islands had a rooster drawn
in the sails of their vessels to protect and guide them in
their long voyages (Fig. 1). The chicken was so highly re-
garded in South American cultures that one of the last In-
cas named himself ‘Atahualpa’ to unite the Empire north
and south of Cuzco, as the chicken was called achawal to
the south and hualpa to the north.
While much ethnology of the Mapuche fowl con-
centrates on the role this bird plays within the Mapuche
culture, interest goes beyond this to include farmers and
fanciers who keep it worldwide (Carefoot 1990), and the
scientic community that studies this fowl as a genetic
subject and as an anthropologic trace of human migrations
(Storey et al. 2007, 2008, Gongora et al. 2008). All these
aspects are interrelated and can be considered as part of
the ethno–ornithology of this chicken.
As indicated earlier, recovery of the Mapuche
fowl within the Lafquenche area of Chile (coastal district
of the La Araucanía Region) involved not only its role as
an economic and food source, but became a catalyzer for
the recovery of ancestral remembrance and as an element
for re–connecting elder and younger generations. As seen
with the communities around Villarrica, a process of re-
covery of Mapuche cultural pride, in which the Mapuche
fowl plays an important role, had already started. These
changes were evidenced by the author during several vis-
its to Mapuche communities in this area in the following
years after 2004.
Figure 1. Polynesian vessel showing a rooster in its sail as a
symbol of protection and guidance. Engraving from Schouten’s
journal, 1618, depicting the encounter of his ship De Eendra-
ght with a catamaran somewhere in mid–Pacific, to the North–
West of the Society Islands.
Revista Chilena de Ornitología 22(1): 126-132
Unión de Ornitólogos de Chile 2016
Historically the Mapuche have considered their
fowl as sacred. In particular, the collonca has been an
important element for mediating with the spirits in re-
ligious ceremonies including the Nguillatun (where the
machi or shaman ofciates with the community) and the
Machitun (where the machis gather themselves). Blood
from a slain collonca of a certain color is diluted in wa-
ter in the mol–mol and spilled by the machi in a circle
around the ceremonial ground, starting from the east to
venerate the rising sun Antü. A black hen is used to plead
for good weather, a white or buff for rain (Mora 2005).
As Leonel Lienlaf (prominent Mapuche poet and writer)
explains, if the number of colloncas were diminishing,
so was the power of the Mapuche people to intervene
in the eternal ght between land and sea, Trentren and
Caicai according to Mapuche mythology in a country
of earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes and much more, to
ask for the growth of the vegetation and good harvests.
Therefore, Lienlaf explains, the relation with their fowl
goes beyond a food resource, being an important inhabi-
tant of the territory as a whole.
Apart from the collonca, the machi has the
kultrun, the ceremonial drum (Fig. 2). According to María
Ester Grebe, an expert in Amerindian musical instruments,
the drawings on the skin of the kultrun symbolize the Ma-
puche cosmic vision (Grebe 1973). The circular surface of
the drum is divided by a cross marking the four cardinal
points, each direction ending in three lines as symbolic
chicken feet, which in turn divide the perimeter of the
drum into twelve portions to denote the yearly cycle.
Some Mapuche families, Lienlaf tells us (personal com-
munication 2004), used the collonco rooster as a heraldic
symbol, which provide protection from evil spirits. As
such, the sudden death of the rooster falling bloodless to
the ground is interpreted as the collonco giving his life to
protect a member of the family from an illness or from a
bad event.
The value that the Mapuche give to colloncas
and quetros has been a clue to their persistence until the
present, and also explains why it was almost lost towards
the end of last century, as result of cultural oppression
and erosion experienced by Mapuche communities. In-
heritance of the key morphological traits of the Mapuche
fowl, as will be explained below, determines that when
they are bred together with ordinary chickens (tailed and
tuftless) their allele frequency is progressively reduced in
the population until it disappears. Hence, anthropic selec-
tion is a requisite to maintain their numbers in a breeding
ock. This form of inheritance demonstrates that the Ma-
puche favorably selected the collonca and quetro types. In
fact, historical records say that Chief Quiñenao, who lived
during mid nineteenth century, preferred tailless colloncas
because they escaped better from foxes (Castelló 1924).
An ancestral ‘relato’ (tale) made known by Leo-
nel Lienlaf in 1990 in a conversation with the researcher
Eugenio Salas in Temuco describes how the Mapuche re-
ceived this fowl and committed to take care of it, as an
allegory of the process of domestication. This tale is tran-
scribed as follows:
... to a place between Chapuko y Fucha Fotra,
some birds came ying one day, which came to be wûñum
(chicken), the birds were on voyage but the journey was
long so they stopped, nested and laid eggs. A man that
lived nearby wanted to know about these birds, so he cut
the tree down, and so the birds fell. Big was his surprise,
the eggs were blue because their evolution was not yet
complete, the old people said that their destiny was an-
other (another bird), maybe wûdu or maybe manque from
the sky (condor), they say the old man said. Then they saw
the tree bleeding, that red was the blood from the tree, as
that of a Christian they said it was. So the old men gath-
ered, they made a council, and so became the keepers and
guardians of this bird the Mapuche, to repair the dam-
age done. But the birds still remember their other land, so
at night when the day is about to come they sing,… they
sing… ap their wings to prepare for the ight,… they sing
and lean their heads to listen how the birds from the sky
Inheritance of main traits
As was mentioned earlier, inheritance of two of
the three main characteristic traits of the Mapuche fowl
is difcult. The autosomic dominant gene that confers ear
tufts (Et), described only in the Mapuche fowl, is lethal
when in homozygous Et Et condition (a similar case as
that of the classic example of the Creeper gene that con-
fers abnormally short shanks in chicken). The Et Et chick
Figure 2. Kultrun the Mapuche ceremonial drum showing the
drawings that symbolize Mapuche cosmovision. The skin sur-
face is divided by a cross in four cardinal points, each quarter
has a star, the moon or the sun depicting the sky. The lines
in the cross end in chicken feet dividing the perimeter of the
drum into twelve segments symbolizing the calendar months.
Open source image.
being dominant, non–lethal and striking to most human
eyes). Inheritance also explains the practice of breeding
quetros and colloncas together to reduce lethal losses (un-
hatched eggs), and to obtain ‘colloncas de aretes’ (tufted
rumpless), albeit in lower frequency (Fig. 3).
The Mapuche fowl was made known to the sci-
entic world in 1921 by Salvador Castelló during the
First World Poultry Congress in The Hague, Netherlands.
He came to know this fowl at the Santiago International
Fair in 1914 while visiting Chile as director of the Royal
Poultry School of Spain, and was impressed by this sin-
gular blue–green eggshell color and the ear tufts protrud-
ing from each side of the head. Such was his enthusiasm
that he baptized this hen as a new species Gallus inauris
Castelloi, under the hypothesis of a possible hybridization
with a South American gallinacean as the source of the
blue egg trait (Castelló 1924).
What Castelló saw in 1914 and showed to the
scientic world as the Araucana chicken were in fact the
rumpless tufted birds of Mr. Rubén Bustos (a well–regard-
ed poultry breeder of the time), which came from the cross
between the two types of Mapuche fowl, which he man-
aged to obtain from different Mapuche communities in
the South of Chile. Based on this collonca de aretes’ type
promoted by Castelló, fancier club standards were estab-
lished in North America and Europe, adopting the name of
Araucana that Castelló proposed (Wilhelm 1953).
Later Bustos explained to Castelló that the orig-
inal Mapuche fowl types were the collonca, a rumpless
blue/green egg layer, and the quetro, an ear–tufted normal
tailed chicken that usually laid light brown eggs. While
dies in the egg three or four days before hatching time,
due to malformation of the throat and ear channel (Somes
1978). In heterozygous Et et condition the chick is viable,
though survival rates are lower. The consequences of this
kind of inheritance is that ear tufted birds are 99% Et et
(Somes & Pabilonia 1981), and if crossed with each other
will always have a proportion of non–tufted chicks (et et)
in the progeny, making impossible to x the trait in the
breed. Therefore, a mean of 25% of the chicks die before
hatching (those Et Et). Considering these and the higher
perinatal mortality of the heterozygous, the proportion of
surviving tufted chicks is usually around 50%. Mutations
in two genes have been recently associated with this trait:
TBX1 encodes a protein linked to neuropsychiatric disor-
ders, and GNB1L encoding a transcriptional regulator of
embryonic development (Noorai et al. 2012).
The rumplessness of the collonca, controlled by
the incompletely dominant autosomic gene Rp, is associ-
ated with reduced fertility and a higher embryonic mortal-
ity during the last days before hatching (Dunn & Landauer
1934). Reduced fertility is explained by copulation dif-
culties in absence of the tail, as saddle feathers obstruct
the vent of both male and female. In normal copulation,
both male and female set their tails aside exposing their
vents for effective contact. Higher embryonic mortality of
Rp Rp o Rp rp chicks is associated with malformations
involving caudal vertebrae. Noorai et al. (2012) have
identied two genes Irx1 and Irx2, which determine de-
velopmental patterns in Drosophila, rat and zebra sh, as
causing rumplessness in North American Araucanas.
The blue egg trait or Oocyan (O) is autosomic
dominant, i.e. both OO and Oo express high concentra-
tions of biliverdin in the eggshell (Punnett 1933). This
trait is present only in two chicken breeds in the World,
the Chinese Dongxiang (Zhao et al. 2006) and the Ma-
puche fowl; and of course in those derived from them.
The structure of the gene has recently been deciphered
for Dongxiang (Wang et al. 2013) and for the Mapuche
fowl (Wragg et al. 2013), nding that despite being inde-
pendent mutational events, structural similarities are sur-
prising (i.e. both consist on the insertion of an EAV–HP
retrovirus upstream of the SLCO1B3 gene encoding for a
biliverdin carrier protein, causing an organ–specic over–
expression of the latter in the oviduct). Independence of
each other is demonstrated by a 23 bp shift upstream of
the insertion site of the Mapuche fowl EAV–HP retrovirus
in relation to that of the Dongxiang chicken.
Therefore, the mode of inheritance of the three
main dening traits of the Mapuche fowl depicted so far,
explains that the scarcest type is the quetro, that collonca
abundance is moderate, and that blue egg layers are wide-
ly dispersed around the Chilean countryside (the character
Figure 3. Combining colloncas and quetros to obtain collonca
de aretes and reduce mortality losses from Et Et genotype. Ima-
ge from the author.
Revista Chilena de Ornitología 22(1): 126-132
Unión de Ornitólogos de Chile 2016
serving in the army in 1880 in the South of Chile, Bustos
got his colloncas directly from Chief Quiñenao in Quillén,
in northern Araucanía, and his quetros further south from
Chief Michiqueo Toro Mellin in the mountains of Ñielol
(Bustos 1922). He crossed both types and exhibited only
those which carried the three traits, the ‘collonca de
aretes’, a type which was normally very scarce in Mapu-
che communities.
In 1927 and again in 1948 the National Geo-
graphic magazine from USA published articles about
the ‘Araucana chickens’, which greatly promoted the
breed and raised much interest in importing specimens
from Chile. Mr. Juan Sierra, an important breeder of
these chickens, sent ve specimens to found the breeding
stock for Mr. Ward Brower Jr. in 1930, from which most
North American Araucanas descend. Something simi-
lar happened in the UK and Germany, and fancier clubs
were founded which went through good and bad times.
Although studies show high genetic homogeneity among
birds kept by these clubs (Wragg et al. 2013), emphasis
in exhibition rather than genetic conservation determines
that fanciers are open to outcrossing followed by back-
crossing their specimens for the sake of morphological
perfection (Carefoot 1990).
After spending a research period at the Universi-
ty of Berkeley in California in 1944, Dr. Ottmar Wilhelm
learned about the work of R.C. Punnet who established
the dominant mode of inheritance of the oocyan trait of
the Araucana chicken. Back at the Universidad de Con-
cepción, Wilhelm started a long term project to study
and recover the Mapuche fowl, collecting over 100 hens
from peasant farms around Concepción and Temuco, and
established a genetic program by crossing the hens with
barred Plymouth Rock and black Minorca roosters. He
developed four lines: a heavy one with meat aptitude, a
light one with good laying ability, a black naked necked
line, and what he called the ‘atavic recessives’. Crossing
with other breeds such as Plymouth Rock and Minorca
allowed Wilhelm to study the genetics of the Mapuche
fowl, but was not good for preserving the breed as ad-
mixture was increased further and a ‘pure’ line was not
kept. After more than three decades and 23 generations
of backcross and inbreeding the four lines started to show
nervous illnesses associated with consanguinity. After
his death in 1974 these lines declined and were lost be-
cause of the difculties of keeping them pure, and with
this came an important reduction of the population of the
fowl outside Mapuche communities. As a consequence of
the work of Wilhelm the notion that the barred and black
hens are the ones that lay the blue egg remained in the
Chilean countryside, a fact that is observed quite often
but not a sine qua non condition.
Albeit written historical records about the Mapu-
che fowl date since 1880, it is believed that this fowl has
existed in Chile since ancient times. Linguistic evidence
in the names for hen, achawal, rooster, alka achawal, and
egg, kuram or runtu, which are different from those names
used for animals that had arrived with the Spaniards such
as kawello for horse (caballo), waca for cow (vaca) and
oweja for sheep (oveja), suggest that as with the dog (tre-
wa) and the pig (sañwe), the chicken was already present
when the rst Europeans arrived. Father José de Acosta
(S.J.) in his book “Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias”
(Natural and Moral History of the Indies), published in
Seville in 1590, conrms these names for hen, rooster and
egg, and indicates that chickens existed in America prior
to the arrival of the Spanish and were quite abundant.
Until 2005 when Daniel Quiroz found the rst Pre–
Columbian chicken bones in the whole of the Americas,
scientic evidence indicated that the chicken had arrived
with Europeans (Crawford 1990). Predominance of traits
from breeds of Asian origin in the Mapuche fowl as com-
pared with those of Mediterranean origin which had arrived
with the Spaniards, such as red earlobes, yellow shanks,
small, rose, strawberry or pea combs, slow feathering and
pigmented eggs), opened the possibility of arrival through
trans–Pacic voyages (Errazuriz 2000, Menzies 2002).
A possible Chinese origin for the Mapuche fowl
based on the presence of the oocyan blue egg trait in the
Dongxiang and Lushi breeds (Zhao et al. 2006), has been
dismissed as the two oocyan alleles have proved to be dif-
ferent (Wang et al. 2013, Wragg et al. 2013), as was ex-
plained above.
Instead, the hypothesis of Polynesian origin for
people and chickens has gained support with linguistic
similarities and common technologies for building ca-
noes among Mapuche and Polynesian cultures (Storey
et al. 2007), although the genetic evidence presented for
mitochondrial DNA of Polynesian and American chick-
en bones has not been conclusive so far (Góngora et al.
2008). All in all, the bones found by Daniel Quiroz on the
coast close to Punta Lavapié, south of the Arauco Penin-
sula, have been dated to the year 1364 ± 43 AD, and their
carbon, nitrogen and sulfur natural isotopes suggest that
the diet of those chickens was based on C3 plants, was
mostly vegetarian and was terrestrial rather than marine
(Storey et al. 2008). The latter is especially important
for an adequate determination of the age of the bones as
marine radiocarbon decays faster than terrestrial. These
studies indicate that the chickens, associated with the El
Vergel culture, were handled in captivity and raised rath-
er far from the coast, so these bones may have been the
remains of a picnic.
Conservation status of the Mapuche fowl
Some authors (Bustos 1922, Latcham 1922, Cas-
telló 1924, Wilhelm 1966) consider that the Mapuche fowl
has never been a pure breed, in the sense we consider pure
breeds today (i.e. all individuals carrying the same traits
and breeding them true to the next generation). As was ex-
plained earlier, ear tufts of the Mapuche fowl don’t breed
true so there will always be two or more types of chick-
ens within the breed, and rst descriptions by Rubén Bus-
tos indicate high phenotypic diversity for plumage color,
comb type, shank color, etc. Introgression with modern
European and Asiatic breeds has occurred since their ar-
rival early in the twentieth century and persists today with
highly productive hybrid lines, as well as with ornamental
breeds such as the Brahma and Cochin. A study by Gon-
gora et al. (2008) showed high heterogeneity in maternal
lines with eight haplotypes and three haplogroups pres-
ent in modern day Mapuche fowl carrying the descriptive
morphological traits (oocyan, ear tufts and/or rumpless-
ness). Therefore, the question seems to be how to distin-
guish the original Mapuche fowl from old introgression
that took place when the Mapuche kept their colloncas
and quetros with other pre– and post–Columbian chick-
ens, and also from more recent introgression derived from
the crossing with modern European and Asiatic breeds as
well as with modern day hybrids. This is a complex chal-
lenge awaiting genetic analysis tools yet to be developed.
The actual situation of the Mapuche fowl has im-
proved substantially in the last decade thanks to diffusion
by television documentaries and written articles in maga-
zines covering the subject. Several initiatives to recover
this fowl linked to agricultural schools and municipalities
covering an ample area of the country have been very
successful and secure a stock of specimens that carry the
morphological traits of the breed. An association of breed-
ers of this chicken in Pirque near Santiago, called Mapu
Achawal, holds a breed contest every year since 2008 and
awards prizes to the best specimens. The number of partic-
ipants in this contest, and in other recent ones, has grown
in recent years reecting the great interest in this Chilean
breed outside Mapuche communities. If the actual trend
continues, the Mapuche fowl should be abundant again
in Mapuche communities as well as in smallholdings and
with fancier breeders. Recovery of colloncas and quetros
with their natural rusticity and disease resistance, confer
resilience to subsistence systems of peasant farmers under
the pressure of climate change and the occurrence of nat-
ural disasters, and contribute to food security both within
and outside the Mapuche world. Though modern chicken
breeds can also be suitable as a source of eggs and meat
for Mapuche communities, they are not suitable for reli-
gious ceremonies in which the spirits are beseeched for
food security as a whole. Conservation of this fowl has the
wider signicance of being linked to recovery of ancestral
memories and practices in Mapuche culture.
Recovery of cultural signicance that the Mapu-
che assign to their colloncas and quetros, which has been
collected by the author and collaborators and presented
here, is a good example of how recovery of biodiversi-
ty can revitalize cultural knowledge including religious
practices, language conservation, cosmic vision and very
importantly, Mapuche cultural pride. As proposed by Ibar-
ra et al. (2012) for the condor, the Mapuche fowl may also
be considered a biocultural keystone species which, as
dened by Ellen (2006), are organisms which by virtue
of their importance for human beings can become eco-
logically crucial for the maintenance of the livelihood of
human environments.
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... Even though a previous study of the eggshell coloration in Chilean breeds suggested a possible Chinese origin [45], Wang et al. [46] and Wragg et al. [47] later reported that the blue egg shell trait in the Chilean and Chinese breeds has a different genetic basis in the two origins. It was reported that many phenotypic features of the Mapuche chickens resemble those of breeds of Asian origin rather than of European origin [48], but these populations showed a level of admixture with both the Asian and European gene pool in our analysis. Our current results do not really solve the debate regarding the origin of the Mapuche chickens. ...
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Background Since domestication, chickens did not only disperse into the different parts of the world but they have also undergone significant genomic changes in this process. Many breeds, strains or lines have been formed and those represent the diversity of the species. However, other than the natural evolutionary forces, management practices (including those that threaten the persistence of genetic diversity) following domestication have shaped the genetic make-up of and diversity between today’s chicken breeds. As part of the SYNBREED project, samples from a wide variety of chicken populations have been collected across the globe and were genotyped with a high density SNP array. The panel consists of the wild type, commercial layers and broilers, indigenous village/local type and fancy chicken breeds. The SYNBREED chicken diversity panel (SCDP) is made available to serve as a public basis to study the genetic structure of chicken diversity. In the current study we analyzed the genetic diversity between and within the populations in the SCDP, which is important for making informed decisions for effective management of farm animal genetic resources. Results Many of the fancy breeds cover a wide spectrum and clustered with other breeds of similar supposed origin as shown by the phylogenetic tree and principal component analysis. However, the fancy breeds as well as the highly selected commercial layer lines have reduced genetic diversity within the population, with the average observed heterozygosity estimates lower than 0.205 across their breeds’ categories and the average proportion of polymorphic loci lower than 0.680. We show that there is still a lot of genetic diversity preserved within the wild and less selected African, South American and some local Asian and European breeds with the average observed heterozygosity greater than 0.225 and the average proportion of polymorphic loci larger than 0.720 within their breeds’ categories. Conclusions It is important that such highly diverse breeds are maintained for the sustainability and flexibility of future chicken breeding. This diversity panel provides opportunities for exploitation for further chicken molecular genetic studies. With the possibility to further expand, it constitutes a very useful community resource for chicken genetic diversity research. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s12864-019-5727-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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The objective of this study was to evaluate consumer habits as well as the sensory perception and characteristics of farm eggs produced in Los Ríos, Chile. Data was collected from an online survey of 197 respondents and a sensory evaluation carried out by 30 untrained panelists of four types of eggs [brown shell (BrF) and blue shell eggs (BlF) acquired from family farms, free-range eggs (FR) acquired from large, industrial systems, and white shell cage eggs (WC) from industrial, cage systems]. To evaluate differences and preferences, data were analyzed in a generalized linear model. Additionally, sensory evaluation was analyzed using Principal Components Analysis. According to the survey, 99% of the participants eat eggs (P<0.001), 58% eat 1-3 eggs/week and 84% declared to consume eggs at home (<0.0001). Surveyed participants reported that price and size are the determining factors (31%) when purchasing eggs. Among the physical characteristic for consumers, yolk color was the most important attribute rather than white color, egg appearance, texture, flavor or odor. In the consumer acceptability test, farm eggs (either brown or blue shell) received the most favorable sensory evaluation by the panel and were preferred to both FR and WC. Yolk color was the most influential parameter in making this difference. Brown farm eggs were predominately selected for greatest general satisfaction by participants in both the sensory evaluation (P=0.008) and in the survey (40%; P=0.026). There were no differences between farm eggs (brown and blue shell, P>0.05) in the evaluated parameters. There was a consequence in the information given from surveyed consumers and the sensory panel with the yolk color.
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Oocyan or blue/green eggshell colour is an autosomal dominant trait found in native chickens (Mapuche fowl) of Chile and in some of their descendants in European and North American modern breeds. We report here the identification of an endogenous avian retroviral (EAV-HP) insertion in oocyan Mapuche fowl and European breeds. Sequencing data reveals 100% retroviral identity between the Mapuche and European insertions. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis of European oocyan chicken indicates over-expression of the SLCO1B3 gene (P<0.05) in the shell gland and oviduct. Predicted transcription factor binding sites in the long terminal repeats (LTR) indicate AhR/Ar, a modulator of oestrogen, as a possible promoter/enhancer leading to reproductive tissue-specific over-expression of the SLCO1B3 gene. Analysis of all jungle fowl species Gallus sp. supports the retroviral insertion to be a post-domestication event, while identical LTR sequences within domestic chickens are in agreement with a recent de novo mutation.
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European chickens were introduced into the American continents by the Spanish after their arrival in the 15th century. However, there is ongoing debate as to the presence of pre-Columbian chickens among Amerindians in South America, particularly in relation to Chilean breeds such as the Araucana and Passion Fowl. To understand the origin of these populations, we have generated partial mitochondrial DNA control region sequences from 41 native Chilean specimens and compared them with a previously generated database of ≈1,000 domestic chicken sequences from across the world as well as published Chilean and Polynesian ancient DNA sequences. The modern Chilean sequences cluster closely with haplotypes predominantly distributed among European, Indian subcontinental, and Southeast Asian chickens, consistent with a European genetic origin. A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and China and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia. • Araucana chicken • Gallus gallus • pre-Columbian chicken • control region
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The genetic determination of eggshell coloration has not been determined in birds. Here we report that the blue eggshell is caused by an EAV-HP insertion that promotes the expression of SLCO1B3 gene in the uterus (shell gland) of the oviduct in chicken. In this study, the genetic map location of the blue eggshell gene was refined by linkage analysis in an F(2) chicken population, and four candidate genes within the refined interval were subsequently tested for their expression levels in the shell gland of the uterus from blue-shelled and non-blue-shelled hens. SLCO1B3 gene was found to be the only one expressed in the uterus of blue-shelled hens but not in that of non-blue-shelled hens. Results from a pyrosequencing analysis showed that only the allele of SLCO1B3 from blue-shelled chickens was expressed in the uterus of heterozygous hens (O*LC/O*N). SLCO1B3 gene belongs to the organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP) family; and the OATPs, functioning as membrane transporters, have been reported for the transportation of amphipathic organic compounds, including bile salt in mammals. We subsequently resequenced the whole genomic region of SLCO1B3 and discovered an EAV-HP insertion in the 5' flanking region of SLCO1B3. The EAV-HP insertion was found closely associated with blue eggshell phenotype following complete Mendelian segregation. In situ hybridization also demonstrated that the blue eggshell is associated with ectopic expression of SLCO1B3 in shell glands of uterus. Our finding strongly suggests that the EAV-HP insertion is the causative mutation for the blue eggshell phenotype. The insertion was also found in another Chinese blue-shelled breed and an American blue-shelled breed. In addition, we found that the insertion site in the blue-shelled chickens from Araucana is different from that in Chinese breeds, which implied independent integration events in the blue-shelled chickens from the two continents, providing a parallel evolutionary example at the molecular level.
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Araucana chickens are known for their rounded, tailless rumps and tufted ears. Inheritance studies have shown that the rumpless (Rp) and ear-tufted (Et) loci each act in an autosomal dominant fashion, segregate independently, and are associated with an increased rate of embryonic mortality. To find genomic regions associated with Rp and Et, we generated genome-wide SNP profiles for a diverse population of 60 Araucana chickens using the 60 K chicken SNP BeadChip. Genome-wide association studies using 40 rumpless and 11 tailed birds showed a strong association with rumpless on Gga 2 (P(raw) = 2.45×10(-10), P(genome) = 0.00575), and analysis of genotypes revealed a 2.14 Mb haplotype shared by all rumpless birds. Within this haplotype, a 0.74 Mb critical interval containing two Iroquois homeobox genes, Irx1 and Irx2, was unique to rumpless Araucana chickens. Irx1 and Irx2 are central for developmental prepatterning, but neither gene is known to have a role in mechanisms leading to caudal development. A second genome-wide association analysis using 30 ear-tufted and 28 non-tufted birds revealed an association with tufted on Gga 15 (P(raw) = 6.61×10(-7), P(genome) = 0.0981). We identified a 0.58 Mb haplotype common to tufted birds and harboring 7 genes. Because homozygosity for Et is nearly 100% lethal, we employed a heterozygosity mapping approach to prioritize candidate gene selection. A 60 kb region heterozygous in all Araucana chickens contains the complete coding sequence for TBX1 and partial sequence for GNB1L. TBX1 is an important transcriptional regulator of embryonic development and a key genetic determinant of human DiGeorge syndrome. Herein, we describe localization of Rp and Et and identification of positional candidate genes.
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Recently Gongora et al. (1) stated that their analyses of chicken mtDNA and potential offsets for dietary marine carbon cast doubt on “claims for pre-Columbian chickens” in the Americas. We present additional data supporting the interpretation of Storey et al. (2) showing that evidence for pre-Columbian chickens at the site of El Arenal, Chile, is secure.
The ear-tuft trait of Araucana chickens is described and genetic data are presented suggesting that it is caused by an autosomal dominant gene to which the symbol Et has been assigned. The main phenotypic expression of this gene is the development of feather-covered peduncles projecting from the head in the area of the ear opening or the ear lobe. Secondary manifestations of the gene result in modifications of the external auditory canal and lead to prenatal death of all homozygotes and of about 20 percent of the heterozygotes. Expressivity of the trait is quite varied, with approximately 25 percent of the birds having larger tufts on the left side, 25 percent having larger tufts on the right side, 25 percent with large tufts on both sides, and 25 percent with small to medium sized tufts on both sides. Also, penetrance is incomplete.
The lethal effects of the ear-tuft trait of the Araucana chicken are reported and the genetic basis of its inheritance is verified. The ear-tuft (Et) gene acts as an autosomal dominant with reduced penetrance in heterozygotes. This study gave two estimates of reduced penetrance, 4 and 14 percent. Homozygotes die during 17-19 days of incubation, although a few may hatch. Most of these die within a week, but occasionally an "escaper" will live to maturity; one such Et/Et individual was verified. Heterozygotes also experience increased embryonic mortality at about 20 or 21 days of incubation. In this study the average embryonic mortality among heterozygotes was 41.6 percent. Posthatch mortality also was significantly greater among tufted chicks than among nontufted chicks.