Background In livestock species like the chicken, high throughput single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping assays are increasingly being used for whole genome association studies and as a tool in breeding (referred to as genomic selection). To be of value in a wide variety of breeds and populations, the success rate of the SNP genotyping assay, the distribution of the SNP across the genome and the minor allele frequencies (MAF) of the SNPs used are extremely important. Results We describe the design of a moderate density (60k) Illumina SNP BeadChip in chicken consisting of SNPs known to be segregating at high to medium minor allele frequencies (MAF) in the two major types of commercial chicken (broilers and layers). This was achieved by the identification of 352,303 SNPs with moderate to high MAF in 2 broilers and 2 layer lines using Illumina sequencing on reduced representation libraries. To further increase the utility of the chip, we also identified SNPs on sequences currently not covered by the chicken genome assembly (Gallus_gallus-2.1). This was achieved by 454 sequencing of the chicken genome at a depth of 12x and the identification of SNPs on 454-derived contigs not covered by the current chicken genome assembly. In total we added 790 SNPs that mapped to 454-derived contigs as well as 421 SNPs with a position on Chr_random of the current assembly. The SNP chip contains 57,636 SNPs of which 54,293 could be genotyped and were shown to be segregating in chicken populations. Our SNP identification procedure appeared to be highly reliable and the overall validation rate of the SNPs on the chip was 94%. We were able to map 328 SNPs derived from the 454 sequence contigs on the chicken genome. The majority of these SNPs map to chromosomes that are already represented in genome build Gallus_gallus-2.1.0. Twenty-eight SNPs were used to construct two new linkage groups most likely representing two micro-chromosomes not covered by the current genome assembly. Conclusions The high success rate of the SNPs on the Illumina chicken 60K Beadchip emphasizes the power of Next generation sequence (NGS) technology for the SNP identification and selection step. The identification of SNPs from sequence contigs derived from NGS sequencing resulted in improved coverage of the chicken genome and the construction of two new linkage groups most likely representing two chicken micro-chromosomes.
- genotyping assay