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Identification of genes associated to heat stress in broiler chickens by RNA-Seq

Abstract

Heat stress is a major problem for the poultry industry; it affects broiler performance decreasing growth rate, increasing mortality, and causing significant changes in meat quality attributes. Thus, we aim to study the effects of heat stress on the chickens' physiological state using the technology of total RNA next generation sequencing (RNA-Seq). This technology will allow the identification of transcripts that are associated with different treatments (exposure to heat and dietary supplementation with vitamins C and E) and, at the same time, with the mechanisms of regulation of muscle growth and development, energy metabolism, immune and antioxidant system. For this, at 28 days of age, the chickens were assigned to three groups: heat stress (32 °C), thermo neutral (24 °C) and thermo neutral with pair feeding (24 °C with a limited amount of feed corresponding to the average consumed by chickens kept under heat stress in the previous day) receiving or not dietary supplementation with vitamins C and E above recommended levels. Samples of pectoralis major muscle collected 18 hours and 16 days after the start of heat stress from 16 and 24 animals, respectively, and stored at -80 C will be used for RNA sequencing. With the application of this recent technology for RNA sequencing, we expect to contribute to the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that occur in skeletal muscle of broilers during the growth and final phases, resulting from acute and chronic heat stress exposure. We also expect to suggest strategies for the selection of resistant animals or new approaches to reduce the effect of stress on performance and meat quality. (AU)

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