Associate Professor - Poultry Genomics, Nutrition, Immunology, and Physiologychris_ashwell@ncsu.edu
B.S (1992) Biochemistry and Nutrition, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
Ph.D.(1997) Biochemistry, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC
Postdoctoral, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD
PO 435 Incubation and Breeding
Undergraduate Research, Director Poultry Science
Our major research focus is to identify the gene(s) underlying traits of economic importance in poultry.
These efforts include the use of resource populations and the collection of relevant phenotypes to search for the causative genome variants for specific traits which may be used to incorporate marker assisted selection into commercial operations. A resource population to study immunogenetics has been developed consists of reciprocal crosses of lines divergently selected for antibody response to sheep red blood cells. The F8 generation of this population is currently being evaluated to identify gene(s) associated with antibody response and other traits. Other efforts include the use of functional genomics to evaluate gene expression profiles using RNAseq, microarray, as well as real-time quantitative PCR. These approaches have been used recently to evaluate the response of chickens to nutritional manipulation in ovo, post hatch, and throughout the growth period.
Recent environmental concerns have focused on reduction of animal wastes, which may be addressed by producing more efficient livestock. Our nutrigenomics studies are some of the first to focus on nutritional and thus environmental impact of poultry production from a genetic point of view. This work has led us to investigate the epigenetic effects of dietary manipulation on the chicken and its effect on DNA methylation. The outcome of this research will provide a means to improve the innate ability of poultry via nutritional conditioning or programming to utilize environmentally important nutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorous, therefore reducing their excretion and impact on the environment.
The most recent addition to our research portfolio is several related projects attempting to better understand the chicken's response to heat stress. Our work focuses on understanding the molecular basis for heat resistance conferred either by genetic background or by thermal conditioning either during incubation or post-hatch. This work is in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Delaware and Iowa State University and will involve evaluating the epigenetic impact of heat stress and conditioning on global DNA methylation patterns.
The multi-faceted approach of our research program provides much needed information regarding the genetic location (marker) and or possible causative genes responsible for traits, which can have a significant impact on the poultry industry. The ability to make selection decisions using these markers will allow the poultry industry to accelerate genetic improvement of commercial stocks.
Differential expression of genes characterizing myofibre phenotype. Nierobisz LS, Sporer KR, Strasburg GM, Reed KM, Velleman SG, Ashwell CM, Felts JV, Mozdziak PE. Anim Genet. 2012 Jun;43(3):298-308.
Direct fed microbial supplementation repartitions host energy to the immune system. Qiu R, Croom J, Ali RA, Ballou AL, Smith CD, Ashwell CM, Hassan HM, Chiang CC, Koci MD. J Anim Sci. 2012 Aug;90(8):2639-51.
Cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae differentially modulated innate immunity and glucose metabolism during late systemic inflammation. Baurhoo B, Ferket P, Ashwell CM, de Oliviera J, Zhao X. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30323.
A complex genomic rearrangement involving the endothelin 3 locus causes dermal hyperpigmentation in the chicken. Dorshorst B, Molin AM, Rubin CJ, Johansson AM, Strömstedt L, Pham MH, Chen CF, Hallböök F, Ashwell C, Andersson L. PLoS Genet. 2011 Dec;7(12):e1002412.
Genomic regions associated with antibody response to sheep red blood cells in the chicken. Dorshorst BJ, Siegel PB, Ashwell CM. Anim Genet. 2011 Jun;42(3):300-8.