Behnam Abasht

Photo of Benham Abasht
Department of Animal and Food Sciences

Behnam Abasht

Associate Professor of Animal Genetics

Office location:

531 S. College Avenue
035 Townsend Hall
Newark, DE 19716


Abasht joined the department in 2011. He received his Ph.D. from Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes, France, in 2006, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in quantitative genetics at Iowa State University. He was a research geneticist and genomics project leader at Perdue Farms prior to his appointment at the University of Delaware. Dr. Abasht’s current research is broadly concerned with degenerative muscle diseases in chickens. His lab also develops bioinformatics tools to facilitate genome-wide investigation of regulatory mutations, epigenetic modifications and genomic imprinting.

Resources and links


  • Postdoctoral Research, Iowa State University: 2006-2008
  • PhD., Agrocampus Ouest / French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Rennes, France: 2006
  • MSc., University of Tehran, Iran: 1998
  • BSc., Urmia University, Iran: 1995

Current courses

  • Principles of Animal and Plant Genetics
  • Genetics and Breeding

Research interests

Research in Dr. Abasht’s lab has focused on studying Wooden Breast, a novel muscle disorder of unknown etiology in commercial broiler chickens. The most severe cases of the disease are characterized by extreme stiffness of the breast muscle (pectoralis major), which can be detected by manual palpation. Using a combination of methods, including transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq), histology, electron microscopy, and bioinformatics, Dr. Abasht’s lab investigates and hopes to identify factors causing this myopathy in modern broiler chickens. The lab group also studies genetic regulation of myogenesis and adiposity as they relate to healthy muscle growth in chickens.

Zhuo, Z., S.J. Lamont, B. Abasht. 2017. RNA-Seq Analyses Identify Frequent Allele Specific Expression and No Evidence of Genomic Imprinting in Specific Embryonic Tissues of Chicken. Scientific Reports, (In Press)

Papah, M. B., E.M. Brannick, C.J. Schmidt, and B. Abasht. 2017. Evidence and Role of Phlebitis and Lipid Infiltration in the Onset and Pathogenesis of Wooden Breast Disease in Modern Broiler Chickens. Avian Pathology, 1-59.

Fu, W., W. R. Lee, and B. Abasht. 2016. Detection of genomic signatures of recent selection in commercial broiler chickens. BMC Genetics, 17:122.

Abasht, B., M.F. Mutryn, R.D. Michalek, and W.R. Lee. 2016. Oxidative Stress and Metabolic Perturbations in Wooden Breast Disorder in Chickens. PloS one, 11(4), e0153750.

Mutryn, M. F., E. M. Brannick, W. Fu, W. R. Lee, and B. Abasht. 2015. Characterization of a novel chicken muscle disorder through differential gene expression and pathway analysis using RNA-sequencing. BMC Genomics, 16.1, 399.

Zhou, Z., S.J. Lamont, W. R. Lee, and B. Abasht. 2015. RNA-Seq analysis of abdominal fat reveals differences between modern commercial broiler chickens with high and low feed efficiencies. PlOS ONE. [in press]

Zhou, N., W. R. Lee, and B. Abasht. 2015. Messenger RNA sequencing and pathway analysis provide novel insights into the biological basis of chickens’ feed efficiency. BMC Genomics. 16.1: 195.

Fu, W., J. C.M. Dekkers, W. R. Lee, and B. Abasht. 2015. Linkage disequilibrium in crossbred and pure line chickens. Genetics Selection Evolution. 47.1: 11.

Abasht, B., E. Sandford, J. Arango, P. Settar, J. E. Fulton, N. P. O’Sullivan, A. Hassen, D. Habier, R. L. Fernando, J. C. M. Dekkers and S. J. Lamont. 2009. Extent and consistency of linkage disequilibrium and identification of DNA markers for production and egg quality traits in commercial layer chicken populations. BMC Genomics, 10 Suppl 2:S2.

Le Mignon G., F. Pitel, C. Desert, S. Leroux, O. Demeure, G. Guernec, B. Abasht, M. Douaire, P. Le Roy, and S. Lagarrigue. 2009. Using transcriptome profiling to characterize QTL regions on chicken chromosome 5. BMC Genomics, 10, 575.

Abasht, B., M. G. Kaiser, J. van derPoel, and S.J. Lamont. 2009. Genetic lines differ in Toll-like receptor gene expression in spleen of chicks inoculated with Salmonella enterica serovar enteritidis. Poult. Sci. 88(4):744-9.

Abasht, B., M. G. Kaiser, and S. J. Lamont. 2008. Toll-like receptor gene expression in cecum and spleen of advanced intercross line chicks challenged with Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 123(3-4):314-23.

Abasht, B., and S.J. Lamont. 2007. Genome-wide association analysis reveals cryptic alleles as an important factor in heterosis for fatness in chicken F2 population. Anim. Genet. 38(5):491-8.

Abasht, B., J.C. Dekkers, and S. J. Lamont. 2006. Review of quantitative trait loci identified in the chicken. [Invited Review]. Poult. Sci. 85(12):2079-96.

Abasht, B., F. Pitel, S. Lagarrigue, E. Le Bihan-Duval, P. Le Roy, O. Demeure, F. Vignoles, J. Simon, L. Cogburn, S. Aggrey, A. Vignal, and M. Douaire. 2006. Fatness QTL on chicken chromosome 5 and interaction with sex. Genet. Sel. Evol. 38:297-311.

Lagarrigue, S., F. Pitel, W. Carre, B. Abasht, P. Le Roy, A. Neau, Y. Amigues, M. Sourdioux, J. Simon, L. Cogburn, S. Aggrey, B. Leclercq, A. Vignal, and M. Douaire. 2006. Mapping quantitative trait loci affecting fatness and breast muscle weight in meat-type chicken lines divergently selected on abdominal fatness. Genet. Sel. Evol. 38:85-97.

Pitel F., B. Abasht, M. Morisson, R. P. Crooijmans, F. Vignoles, S. Leroux, K. Feve, S. Bardes, D. Milan, S. Lagarrigue, M. A. Groenen, M. Douaire and A. Vignal. 2004. A high-resolution radiation hybrid map of chicken chromosome 5 and comparison with human chromosomes. BMC Genomics, 5:66.

Recent publications in conference proceedings

Mutryn M.F., W. Fu, W.R. Lee, B. Abasht. 2015. Incidence of Wooden Breast disease and its correlation with broiler performance and ultimate pH of the breast muscle. Proceeding of XXII European Symposium on the Quality of Poultry Meat, May 10-13, 2015, Nantes, France.

Abasht B., W. Fu, W.R. Lee, E.M. Brannick, M.F. Mutryn. 2015. Identification of gene expression biomarkers associated with severity of Wooden Breast disease. Proceeding of XXII European Symposium on the Quality of Poultry Meat, May 10-13, 2015, Nantes, France.