Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 68, Issue 5, pp 385–389 | Cite as

Genetic variability of resistance to Eimeria acervulina and E. tenella in chickens

  • G. F. Mathis
  • K. W. Washburn
  • L. R. McDougald


The genetic variability of 18 sire families of the Athens-Canadian randombred population infected with coccidiosis was assessed by examining the response variables of weight gain, packed red blood cell volume, mortality and coccidial lesions. A significant gain and PCV depression and high lesion scores for Eimeria tenella and E. acervulina were produced in the infected group compared to the noninfected group. Significant variation among the sire families was observed for all of the response variables except E. acervulina lesions and a significant sex x sire interaction was observed for weight gain. The heritability (h2) estimates for the response variables revealed that resistance to coccidiosis in chickens is moderately heritable. The h2 estimates for gain and PCV increased with the coccidial infections indicating that maximum progress in selecting for resistance should be made when the population was exposed to coccidial infection. Gain was positively correlated to the other measures of resistance and thus selecting for coccidial resistance should not reduce growth rates. PCV was similarly correlated but had higher positive correlation with E. tenella lesion. Percent mortality which is the selection parameter in most coccidial selection programs was correlated with resistance to coccidiosis. The phenotypic and genotypic correlations demonstrated that chickens susceptible to E. tenella were also susceptible to E. acervulina. Total lesion scores were moderately to highly correlated with the other variables and would be a suitable variable to use in coccidiosis experimentation including a genetic selection program for resistance. This study shows that progress could be made in selecting for resistance to coccidiosis in chickens using one or a combination of these response variables.

Key words

Coccidiosis Eimeria tenella Eimeria acervulina Heritability Genetic resistance 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barr AJ, Goodnight HH, Sall JP, Helwig TT (1976) A user's guide to SAS 76. SAS Institute Inc, Cary NCGoogle Scholar
  2. Benyshek LL (1979) Sire by breed of dam interaction for weaning weight in limousin sire evaluation. J Anim Sci 49:63–69Google Scholar
  3. Champion LR (1951a) The inheritance of resistance to cecal coccidiosis in domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus). PhD Thesis, University of Wisconsin, Madison WisGoogle Scholar
  4. Champion LR (1954) The inheritance of resistance to Eimeria tenella in the domestic fowl. Poult Sci 33:670–681Google Scholar
  5. Hess CW (1952) Randombred populations of the southern regional poultry breeding project. World's Poultry Sci J 18:147–152Google Scholar
  6. Jeffers TK (1969) Studies on genetic resistance to Eimeria tenella infection in the domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus). Diss Abstr Int [B] 30:9Google Scholar
  7. Johnson J, Reid WM (1970) The anticoccidial drugs: lesion scoring techniques in battery and floor-pen experiments with chickens. Exp Parasitol 28:30–36CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Johnson PM (1955) Hematocrit values for the chicken embryo at various ages. Am J Physiol 180:361–365Google Scholar
  9. Johnson WT (1927) Immunity or resistance of the chicken to coccidial infection. Oreg Agric Exp Stn Bull 230Google Scholar
  10. Klimes B, Orel V (1969) Investigation of genetic variation to coccidiosis. 1. Selection response of chickens to infection by Eimeria tenella. Acta Vet (Brno) 38:51–57Google Scholar
  11. McDougald LR, Reid WM (1983) New anticoccidial drugs: better things to come, or “endangered species?” Feedstuffs 55:23–24Google Scholar
  12. Long PL (1968) The effect of breed of chicken on resistance to Eimeria infection. Poultry Sci 9:71–78Google Scholar
  13. Long PL, Joyner PL, Millard BJ, Norton CC (1976) A guide to laboratory techniques used in the study and diagnosis of avian coccidiosis. Folia Vet Lat 6:201–217Google Scholar
  14. Long PL, Reid WM (1982) A guide for the diagnosis of coccidiosis in chickens. Univ Ga Coll Agric Res Rep 404Google Scholar
  15. Patterson LT, Johnson LW, Edgar SA (1961) The comparative resistance of several inbred lines of S.C. White Leghorns to certain infectious diseases (Abstr). Poultry Sci 40:1442Google Scholar
  16. Rosenberg MM (1941) A study of the inheritance of resistance to E. tenella in the domestic fowl (Abstr). Poultry Sci 20:472Google Scholar
  17. Rosenberg MM, Alicata JE, Palafox JL (1954) Further evidence of hereditary resistance and susceptibility to cecal coccidiosis in chickens. Poultry Sci 33:972–980Google Scholar
  18. Yamada Y (1962) Genotype by environment interaction and genetic correlation of the same trait under different environments. Jpn Genet 37:498–509Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. F. Mathis
    • 1
  • K. W. Washburn
    • 1
  • L. R. McDougald
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Poultry ScienceUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations