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Songbird Genomics: High throughput genetics and QTL mapping in wild passerines

Department: 

Linking quantitative genetic variation in life-history traits with polymorphisms in genes that code for this variance is essential for our understanding of the causes and consequences of trait diversity. Genetic variation in life-history traits in wild songbirds has been demonstrated in many, often long-term, studies throughout the world. Linking this variation to genomic information requires the development of the necessary genomics tools specifically aimed at these non-model species. This is essential as it is impossible to replicate the ecological data already available for free living birds in a limited set of model species. We will link state of the art genomic tools that recently became available for model species, to the in depth studies carried out on free living songbirds. Large numbers of SNP’s will be identified for the great tit, one of the main species in ecological research, using high parallel sequencing on the Solexa and 454 sequencing platforms. We will validate the position of the SNP’s and identify conserved syntenic blocks for songbirds in general, using zebra finch and the chicken genomes as a reference. The SNP’s will subsequently be used to produce high quality genetic maps using the Illumina SNP genotyping platform. The combined expertise on bird genomics and bioinformatics of the Animal Breeding and Genetics Centre (Wageningen University) and the long term (>50 years) population studies of Animal Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) within this project will revolutionize molecular ecological research on free living songbirds throughout the world.

Funding: 

NGI Horizon program and an ERC Advanced grant to Visser