Dr. Porter and colleagues were awarded a fourth grant in the past three years from the USDA-NIFA for their proposal titled "Molecular Basis for Egg Production Rates in Turkey Hens".
Meat production is the primary goal of the turkey industry and requires production of young turkeys (poults) from eggs laid by the breeding flock. However, a large variation in egg production exists within individual commercial flocks, leading to reduced overall egg production. Improvement of the reproductive efficiency of hens would eliminate the need to house and feed additional breeding hens to meet poult production requirements. Reproduction in turkeys is controlled in part by hormones produced by the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary gland, and
the ovary. A better understanding of the mechanisms regulating production of these hormones is essential to develop new strategies aimed at improving reproduction in turkeys. The specific objectives of the project are to 1) Define the influences of estrogen and thyroid hormone on responsiveness of the pituitary gland to hypothalamic hormones in low and high egg producing
hens, 2) Characterize effects of estrogen and thyroid hormone on responsiveness of ovarian tissues to pituitary hormones, and 3) Identify proteins and nucleic acids that regulate important genes within the reproductive axis of low and high egg producing hens.
Completion of this research will lead to the identification of new information that can be used in breeding programs and the poultry industry to produce more food for the growing world’s population.