The data may also provide a fresh insight into avian-borne diseases such as salmonella and bird flu, which has repeatedly surfaced throughout Asia in recent years.

A team of more than 170 researchers from in 12 countries sequenced the DNA from the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), believed to be the predecessor to today’s hens and chickens.

The International Chicken Sequencing Consortium identified the one billion letters of the DNA code of chickens.

Nature journal compares the draft ancestral DNA to three different lines of domestic chicken: broilers, layers and silkies.

“The chicken is the first bird as well as the first agricultural animal to have its genome sequenced and analysed,” said Richard Wilson, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US, and a lead researcher on the project.

The results show about 60 per cent of the protein-coding genes in chickens have equivalents in humans.

The research could lead to change within the food industry, with scientists developing healthier and more productive birds, as researchers may be able to use the map to find genes that produce desirable traits in chickens.

The results show that chickens and humans share about 60 percent of their genes, and reasserts that all life on the planet shares a common origin.

By comparing the two genomes, scientists hope to identify which genes are key to early embryonic development.

It is believed that chickens split from humans more than 310 million years ago, and differences have since accumulated between the two genomes.

Chickens have long held an important role in science, often used to study embryonic growth.

Researchers have also made important advances in immunology and cancer research by studying chickens, with the first tumour virus and cancer gene identified in bird research.

“What this research does give us is an incredible set of tools to study the genetic variation of these birds,” said Ewan Birney from the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, UK.

He said the genome allows scientists to find out how disease is transmitted between birds and eventually help prevent transmission.

The World Health Organisation has expressed fears the bird flu virus could mutate, leading to a deadly global outbreak of human flu.