Improving Animal Production & Welfare
Roslin logo

Enhancing egg's natural defence against bacterial penetration

The genes responsible for cuticle deposition protects eggs from microorganisms.

eggs

Hens’ eggs are covered by an invisible layer that prevents microorganisms from penetrating pores that allow gas exchange between the embryo and the air. 

For the first time, it has been possible to quantify this cuticle layer and derive genetic parameters for the trait. Importantly, it was demonstrated that microorganisms almost never penetrated eggs from the best hens whilst the worst were more likely to be penetrated.

It was possible to characterise the proteins that comprise the cuticle and there was genetic association between alleles of some of these and the quantity of cuticle deposited on eggs. If these observations are universal, this will be the first steps in improving the cuticle and reducing vertical transmissions of pathogens and improving egg safety.

Original publication

Bain MM, et al. (2013) Enhancing the egg's natural defence against bacterial penetration by increasing cuticle deposition. Anim Genet.; 44: 661-8. DOI: 10.1111/age.12071