Scientists in Dubai  have successfully hatched chickens from the eggs of turkeys, guineafowl and ducks.
The team at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) said the groundbreaking technique, which involved taking yolks out of chicken eggs and mixing them in the egg whites of turkeys, guineafowl, duck and other chickens, could help save endangered species.
The boffins hope egg yolks of rare birds could now be put in hen eggs to create life.
However, the research team found that the chicks did not survive very well in the egg white of ducks because the birds are more distantly related.
The five researchers at the CVRL’s cell biology department put the yolks from chicken eggs and a surrogate egg white from a different species into a chicken egg that was 50 per cent bigger.
As the egg yolks developed into chicken embryos, they fed on the egg whites, even though the egg whites were from a different species.
After three weeks of incubation the vets looked at how the embryos had been developing. They found that the survival rate of the embryos was 60 per cent in the surrogate chicken egg white, 57 per cent with the turkey egg white, 50 per cent in guineafowl and just 27 per cent for the egg white of duck eggs.
At hatching time, the number of surviving chicks in chicken embryo remained unchanged. Fifty five per cent successfully hatched from the turkey egg whites, 47 per cent for guineafowl and 19 per cent for the chicks from duck egg white.
The researchers said: “These results show that chicken embryos can develop to hatch in duck, guineafowl and turkey egg whites. However, the hatchability decreases according to the [genetic] distance.”
The team now hopes to adopt the technique to help rare breeds by taking out the egg yolk.
“The present study will provide a tool for manipulation of [avian] embryos and eventual conservation of endangered wild birds,” the research paper adds.
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