The ChickRH6 radiation hybrid panel has been used to construct consensus chromosome radiation hybrid (RH) maps of the chicken genome. Markers genotyped were either from throughout the genome or targeted to specific chromosomes and a large proportion (one third) of data was the result of collaborative efforts. Altogether, 2,531 markers were genotyped, allowing the construction of RH reference maps for 20 chromosomes and linkage groups for four other chromosomes. Amongst the markers, 581 belong to the framework maps, while 1,721 are on the comprehensive maps. Around 800 markers still have to be assigned to linkage groups. Our attempt to assign the supercontigs from the chrun (virtual chromosome containing all the genome sequence that could not be attributed to a chromosome) as well as EST (Expressed Sequence Tag) contigs that do not have a BLAST hit in the genome assembly led to the construction of new maps for microchromosomes either absent or for which very little data is present in the genome assembly. RH data is presented through our ChickRH webserver (http://chickrh.toulouse.inra.fr/), which is a mapping tool as well as the official repository RH database for genotypes. It also displays the RH reference maps and comparison charts with the sequence thus highlighting the possible discrepancies. Future improvements of the RH maps include complete coverage of the sequence assigned to chromosomes, further mapping of the chrun and mapping of EST contigs absent from the assembly. This will help finish the mapping of the smallest gene-rich microchromosomes.

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