Domesticated chickens could wipe out their wild ancestors — by having sex with them Science discovery

Domesticated chickens could wipe out their wild ancestors — by having sex with them


 Domesticated chickens could wipe out their wild ancestors — by having mating with them;

A new study has revealed that red junglefowl, the wild ancestors of chickens, are losing their genetic diversity as they mate with their domesticated counterparts.

Red junglefowl are under threat from domesticated chickens that want to mate with them, a new study shows. These wild birds, the ancestors of domesticated chickens, risk losing their genetic diversity because they are breeding with farmed chickens that putter around their natural habitat. 

If this crossbreeding continues, it could threaten junglefowl’s survival in the future, which would likely have knock-on effects for their domestic counterparts. 

Between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago, humans began to farm red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) for the first time in China and other parts of Southeast Asia. As farmers selectively bred individuals with desirable traits, such as having more meat or producing more eggs, junglefowl gradually evolved into what we now know as chickens (G. g. domesticus), which are a subspecies of red junglefowl. The practice of farming chickens was then eventually adopted all over the globe. 

gradually evolved into what we now know as chickens (G. g. domesticus), which are a subspecies of red junglefowl. The practice of farming chickens was then eventually adopted all over the globe. 

Today, there are five wild subspecies of red junglefowl: G. g. gallus, which live in India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia; G. g bankiva, on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra; G. g. jabouillei, native to Vietnam; G. g. murghi, which are found in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan; and G.g. spadiceus, which live in Myanmar and Thailand. All of these subspecies can successfully breed with domesticated chickens, meaning that chickens’ genes, which were artificially selected by farmers, can be introduced to wild populations. Scientists call this type of genetic mixing introgressive hybridization, or introgression. 

As chicken farming has intensified around the world due to increased demand for meat and more efficient farming practices, the amount of introgression between chickens and wild junglefowl is believed to have increased significantly, but until now nobody had studied this in detail.

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