Broiler genetics company Cobb is putting almost $1m (£600,000) into avian research at the Roslin Institute and its new National Avian Research Facility in Edinburgh as part of a three-year research programme into disease resistance, genome analysis and genome preservation.

The project, which will support research by graduates, aims to identify innovative ways to improve avian health. One priority is to develop new technology enabling pedigree or heritage lines to be maintained, without the need to physically maintain the bird stock.

In addition, several projects will investigate DNA markers in the genome, targeting some of the more difficult to select for traits such as avian immunity, disease tolerance and disease resistance.

“These are exciting new areas which we hope will lead to major breakthroughs in avian health and preservation,” said Dr Christine Daugherty, chief technology officer of Cobb.

“Cobb has an extensive gene pool and to be able to better understand the poultry genome will be critical to meeting future demands for poultry products. We’re always striving to breed more robust chickens that will withstand disease and environmental challenges.”