• Historic and modern genomes unveil a domestic introgression gradient in a wild red junglefowl population

      Wu, Meng Yue; Low, Gabriel Weijie; Forcina, Giovanni; van Grouw, Hein; Lee, Benjamin P Y‐H; Oh, Rachel Rui Ying; Rheindt, Frank E (Wiley, 2020-05-21)
      The red junglefowl Gallus gallus is the ancestor of the domestic chicken and arguably the most important bird species on Earth. Continual gene flow between domestic and wild populations has compromised its gene pool, especially since the last century when human encroachment and habitat loss would have led to increased contact opportunities. We present the first combined genomic and morphological admixture assessment of a native population of red junglefowl, sampled from recolonized parts of its former range in Singapore, partly using whole genomes resequenced from dozens of individuals. Crucially, this population was genomically anchored to museum samples from adjacent Peninsular Malaysia collected ~110–150 years ago to infer the magnitude of modern domestic introgression across individuals. We detected a strong feral–wild genomic continuum with varying levels of domestic introgression in different subpopulations across Singapore. Using a trait scoring scheme, we determined morphological thresholds that can be used by conservation managers to successfully identify individuals with low levels of domestic introgression, and selected traits that were particularly useful for predicting domesticity in genomic profiles. Our study underscores the utility of combined genomic and morphological approaches in population management and suggests a way forward to safeguard the allelic integrity of wild red junglefowl in perpetuity.