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Avian Genetic Resource Laboratory (AGRL)

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The Avian Genetic Resource Laboratory (AGRL) is supported by the University of B.C. and Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada. The AGRL conserves and manages chicken and Japanese quail as a genetic resource and makes this resource accessible to the research community.

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Japanese Quail As A Laboratory Animal

The Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica) has now become a standard laboratory animal in many areas of biological and medical research. It has also proven to be a useful laboratory animal in teaching biology courses.

Japanese quail: 

• require little space and maintenance 
• are adaptable to laboratory conditions 
• have short generation intervals and high fecundity 
• have many specialized strains 

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Standards Of Care

Utilizing chickens and Japanese quail from the AGRL in research projects will ensure consistency in the genetic background of the experimental birds from treatment to treatment and from replication to replication.

High standards of animal care and maintenance at the AGRL ensure: 

• that the birds obtained are of the highest health standards for research and teaching 
• that the impact of disease contamination on research experiments is minimized 

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Stocks Available At The AGRL 

Japanese quail

• Japanese quail single gene mutations; harboured in two gene pool lines
• A randombred Japanese quail population, birds from which have been used in many research projects
• Selected strains (e.g. atherosclerosis resistant/susceptible, heavy bodyweight)  
• A captive-bred wild Japanese quail population


• The RC chicken line
• The Minnesota Marker line
• The RIR (Hardy) line
• Six purebred lines acquired from Shavers

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Dorey, CK, L Granata, CR Nichols, KM Cheng, and NE Craft. “Dietary modulation of lens zeaxanthin in quail”. Experimental Eye Research. (May, 2005)

Hoekstra, K.A., D.V. Godin, and K.M. Cheng. “Protective role of heme oxygenase in the blood vessel wall during atherogenesis”. Biochemistry & Cell Biology 82:351-359 (2004). (Graduate student paper)

Ugrankar RB, KM Cheng, and R Okimoto. “DNA sequence of melanocortin-1 receptor gene in Coturnix japonica: correlation with three E locus alleles, E, e+, and erh.” Discovery ( May 2003) 

Hoekstra K.A., D.V. Godin, J. Kurtu, and K.M. Cheng. “Heme oxygenase and antioxidant status in cultured aortic endothelial cells isolated from atherosclerosis-susceptible and –resistant Japanese quail.” Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry. 252: 253-262 (2003). (Graduate student paper)

Hoekstra K.A., D.V. Godin, J. Kurtu, and K.M. Cheng. “Effects of oxidant-induced injury on heme oxygenase and glutathione in cultured aortic endothelial cells from atherosclerosis-susceptible and –resistant Japanese quail.” Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry. 254: 61-71 (2003). (Graduate student paper)

Godin, DV, CR Nichols, KA. Hoekstra, ME. Garnett, and KM Cheng. “alterations in aortic antioxidant components in an experimental model of atherosclerosis: A time-course study.” Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry 252: 193-203 (2003).

Thomson, LR, Y Toyoda, FC Delori, A Langner, KM Garnett, CR Nichols, KM Cheng, NE Craft, CK Dorey. “Elevated retinal zeaxanthin and prevention of light-induced photoreceptor cell death in quail..” Inves Ophthalmol Visual Research: 43:3538-3549 (2002).

Thomson, LR, Y Toyoda, FC Delori, KM Garnett, Z-Y Wong, CR Nichols, KM Cheng, NE Craft, CK Dorey. “Long term dietary supplementation with Zeaxanthin reduces photoreceptor death in light-damaged Japanese quail.” Experimental Eye Research 75: 529-542 (2002).

Toyoda, Y, LR Thomson, A. Langner, NE Craft, KM Garnett, CR Nichols, KM Cheng, and CK Dorey. “Effect of dietary Zeaxanthin on tissue distribution of Zeaxanthin and Lutein in quail”.Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 43:1210-21 (2002).

Godin, DV, CR Nichols, KA. Hoekstra, ME. Garnett, and KM Cheng. “Red cell and plasma antioxidant components and atherosclerosis in japanese quail: A time-course study.” Research Communications in Molecular Pathology and Pharmacology 110:27-52 (2001).

Pisenti, JM, ME Delany, RL Taylor, UK Abbott, H. Ablplanalp, JA Arthur, MR Bakst, C Baxter-Jones, JJ Bitgood, F. Bradley, KM Cheng, RR Dietert, JB Dodgson, A Donoghue, A Emsley, R Etches, RR Frahm, AA Grunder, RJ Gerrits, RF Goetinck, D Harry, SJ Lamont, GR Martin, PE McGuire, GP Moberg, LJ Pieero, CO Qualset, F Schultz, and BW Wilson. “Avian Genetic Resources at Risk: An assessment and proposal for conservation of genetic stocks in the USA and Canada.” Avian and Poultry Biology Reviews 12 (1-2): 1-102. (2001).

Semple-Rowland, S.L. and K.M. Cheng. “ rd and rc chickens carry the same GC1 null allele (GUCY1*).” Expt Eye Res. 69: 579-581 (1999)

Pang, S.W.Y., C. Ritland, J.E. Carlson, and K.M. Cheng. “Japanese quail microsatellite loci amplified with chicken-specific primers.” Animal Genetics 30:195-199 (1999).(Graduate student paper)

Hoekstra, K.A., C.R. Nichols, M.E. Garnett, D.V. Godin, and K. M. Cheng. “Dietary cholesterol induced xanthomatosis in atherosclerosis susceptible Japanese quail” J. Comp. Pathol. 119:419-427 (1998).(Graduate student paper)

Hoekstra, K.A., G.K. Iwama, C.R. Nichols, D.V. Godin, and K.M. Cheng. “Increased heat shock protein expression after stress in Japanese quail.” Stress 2:265-272 (1998).(Graduate student paper)

Cheng, K.M., S.E. Aggrey, C.R. Nichols, M.E. Garnett, & D.V. Godin. “Antioxidant enzymes and atherosclerosis in Japanese quail: Heritability and genetic correlation estimates”. Can J. Cardiology 13:669-676 (1997)

Cerruti-Sola, S, M Castagnaro, & KM Cheng. “Histological changes caused by the rc mutation in chickens.” J Comp Pathology 116:329-338 (1997)

Nol, E., K.M. Cheng, & C.R. Nichols. “Heritability and phenotypic correlations of behaviour and dominance rank of Japanese quail. Animal Behaviour 52:813-820. (1996)

Neelin, J.M., E.M. Neelin, D.W. Lindsay, J. Palyga, C.R. Nichols & K.M. Cheng. "The occurrence of a mutant dimerizable histone H5 in Japanese quail erythrocytes." Genome 38:982-990. (1995).

Godin, D.V., M.E. Garnett, K.M. Cheng, & C.R. Nichols. "Sex-related alterations in antioxidant status and susceptibility to atherosclerosis in Japanese quail. Canadian J Cardiology 11: 945-951. (1995). 
Sano, A, T. Okamoto, K.M. Cheng, S. Takahashi, A. Nakamura, & M. Kimura. "Genetic differentiation among laboratory quail populations." Japanese Poultry Science 32:177-193 (1995)

Shah, R.M., K.M. Cheng, & E.J.E. Feeley. "Effects of 5-Fluorouracil on macromolecular synthesis during secondary palate development in quail." J Exp Zool. 270:285-291. (1994).

Aggrey, S.E. & K.M. Cheng. "Genetic (co)variance for growth traits in Japanese quail estimated by an animal model." Poultry Science 73:1822-1828 (1994).(Graduate student paper)

Godin, D.V., K.M. Cheng, M.E. Garnett, & C.R. Nichols. "Antioxidant status of Japanese quail: comparison of atherosclerosis-susceptable and -resistant strains. Canadian J Cardiology 10:221-228 (1994).

Cheng, K.M., C.S. Pang, Z.P. Wang, H. Yuan, C.R. Nichols, G.M. Brown & S.F. Pang. " A comparison of [125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in testes and brains of heavy meat-type Japanese quail with a randombred strain". J. of Heredity 85:136-139 (1994).

Young, A.V., B.M. Hehn, K.M. Cheng, & R.M. Shah. "A comparative study on the effects of 5-fluorouracil on glycosaminoglycan synthesis during palate development in quail and hamster." Histology & Histopathology 9:515-523 (1994).

Pang, S.F., C.S. Pang, E.A. Ayre, Z.P. Wang, K.M. Cheng, H. Yuan, & G.M. Brown. “Melatonin implants, photoperiods and [125]iodomelatonin binding sites in the quail brain and testis: Evidence for a direct melatonin action on the testis. Advances Pineal Res. 7:393-402 (1993).

Pang, S.F., K.M. Cheng, C.S. Pang, Z.P. Wang, H. Yuan, & G.M. Brown. "Differential effects of short photoperiod on [125I]iodomelatonin binding in the testes and brain of Japanese quail." Biological Signals 2:146-154 (1993).

Pang, C.S., G.M. Brown, P.L. Tang, K.M. Cheng, & S.F. Pang. "2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in the lung and heart: A link between the photoperiodic signal, melatonin, and the cardiopulmonary system". Biological Signals 2:228-236 (1993).

Aggrey, S.E., C.R. Nichols, & K.M. Cheng. "Multiphasic analysis of egg production characteristics of the Japanese quail." Poultry Science 72:2185-2192 (1993). (Graduate student paper)
Ben-Khaial, G.S., K.M. Cheng, & R.M. Shah. "Effects of 5-Fluorouracil on collagen synthesis during avian secondary palate development." J. Craniofacial Genetics & Develop Biol. 13:6-17 (1993).

Ruschkowski, S.R., F.E. Robinson, K.M. Cheng, & L.E. Hart. "Comparison of two multiple blood sampling regimens using an indwelling vascular access device for investigations of the hen's ovulatory cycle and calcium metabolism." Poultry Science 72:172-184 (1993). 

Rabkin, S.W. & K.M. Cheng. "A genetic abnormality of cardiac myocytes from the mutant (rc) chick heart: Abnormalities of cardiac structure and choline transport". Basic Research in Cardiology 87:610-617 (1992).

Wang, Z.P., K.M. Cheng, G.M. Brown, & S.F. Pang. "Characteristics of [125I] iodomelatonin-binding sites in quail testes at mid-light and mid-dark". Neuroscience Lett. 146:195-198 (1992) 

Cheng, K.M., M. Kimura, & S. Fujii. "Genetic variability in strains of Japanese quail selected for heavy body weight". Journal of Heredity 83:31-35 (1992).

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