WASHINGTON – Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and their university colleagues have sequenced most of the genome of Meleagris gallopavo, the domesticated turkey, creating the first-ever turkey genome map. This almost-complete map could help growers more efficiently produce bigger, meatier turkeys. The research was recently reported in PLoS Biology, an online journal of the Public Library of Science.

The research was conducted as part of a partnership led by Curtis Van Tassell and Julie Long with the U.S.D.A.; Otto Folkerts and Rami Dalloul of Virginia Tech University’s Bioinformatics Institute (V.B.I.); and Steven Salzberg of the University of Maryland’s Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at College Park.

"The project underscores how rapidly the field of genome sequencing has changed," Ms. Long said. "We sequenced the turkey genome in less than a year, at a fraction of the cost of sequencing chicken and cow genomes. The turkey industry and consumers will benefit from this research."