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Identifying and preventing the hybridization of highly valuable game species (rabbit, red-legged partridge and quail) with domestic breeds and/or exotic species

Recent developments in comparative genomics and associated statistical tools are finding increasing applications in wildlife biology. In Portugal, the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus), the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) and the quail (Coturnix coturnix coturnix) are highly valuable small game species. Their high economic, social and environmental value motivate all entities associated with their management to work in collaboration in order to preserve their native genetic characteristics. In the last decades, restocking with animals bred in captivity or imported from Spain and France has grown exponentially. At the same time, the use of domestic and/or exotic forms is becoming more common, which may have a negative impact on the genetic composition of natural populations. The increasing knowledge on the genomes of many mammal and bird species has led to the appearance of a new generation of molecular markers, the Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), which can be easily applied to the management of game species. These novel genetic markers should be more informative for preventing hybridization than the frequently used microsatellites or mtDNA. With this project we want to describe and screen a battery of SNPs that will be able to reveal the genetic characteristics of natural populations of rabbits, red-ledged partridges and quails, and to assess the degree of hybridization with their respective domestic and exotic forms. The use of SNPs will also be useful to efficiently monitor the genetic composition of introduced animals in restocking operations. Therefore, this project comprises a number of experimental and demonstration activities, which are of the utmost importance for the management of an important part of biodiversity, with clear economic, social, and environmental implications. In addition, we hope to develop SNP-Kits for each of the target species in this proposal, which can be easily standardized and used in different molecular laboratories for the genetic characterization and detection of hybrids in rabbits, red-legged partridges and quails

Principal Investigator
Paulo Célio Alves

Paulo Célio Alves

Position: Associate Professor
David Gonçalves

David Gonçalves

Position: Assistant Professor
Nuno Miguel dos Santos Ferrand de Almeida

Nuno Miguel dos Santos Ferrand de Almeida

Position: Full Professor
Other members
Carlos Manuel Guilherme Lage Teixeira, Deodália Maria Antunes Dias
Proponent Institution
Instituto de Ciências e Tecnologias Agrárias e Agro-Alimentares - Porto (ICETA-Porto/UP)
Funded by
2005 (Duration: 3 years)
Participant Institutions
Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade de Recursos Genéticos (CIBIO/ICETA-Porto/UP), Fundação da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (FFC/FC/UL)
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