A Canadian research team has made progress in trying to make eggs less susceptible to cracks.

University of Ottawa Professor Max Hincke claims that his work on the basics of eggshell formation could not only help make this natural packaging more robust, but also reduce diseases, such as salmonella, which can contaminate eggs via cracks.

Already, he and his colleagues have identified a gene to help better understand the microscopic meshwork that covers an egg's shell. Through this work, breeders could soon genetically identify which chickens will lay stronger eggs for longer.

But Dr Hincke cautions that even knowing all the genes involved may not enable producers to easily change the delicate balance between strength and fragility that is an eggshell.