It was recently shown that ducks have a gene called RIG-1 that provides immunological resistance to avian influenza. This gene was shown to be absent in galliform species. However, the distribution of presence of this gene in the genome across all Anseriformes, or absence in all Galliformes, has not been tested.
Through DNA extracted from blood for several duck species bred at Sylvan Heights, we are working with the Beijing Genome Institute to obtain complete genomic sequences. These data will answer the question about RIG-1 presence across waterfowl, but also provide a plethora of molecular markers for future conservation genetics studies as well as address phylogenetic relationships among the major tribes of waterfowl. The collaborative effort between Sylvan Heights, UNC Wilmington and the Beijing Genome Institute is the first to focus primarily on non-model threatened bird species.