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Characterisation of Genetic Factors in Pigs

by 5m Editor
24 March 2010, at 9:42am

NETHERLANDS - The European research organisation ERC (European Research Council) has awarded a grant of approximately €2.5 million to Professor Martien Groenen of the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre (ABGC), who will use the money to complete his 5-year research project 'Molecular characterisation of genetic factors in the pig under selection during speciation, domestication and breeding'.

The origin of new species has intrigued scientists ever since Darwin's time. In his ERC project, Professor Groenen is aiming to acquire more insight into the way in which new species arise.

To do this, he is comparing the genome of the modern pig with that of a number of closely related species such as the warthog from Java and the bearded swine. Recent technological developments now make it possible to sequence the whole genome of many individuals.

By comparing the genomes of individuals from various pig breeds, the research team aims to obtain detailed understanding of the changes that occurred in the genome since the pig was domesticated around 9000 years ago. The availability of DNA from thousand-year-old bones is very important for this research.

The team is also mapping more recent changes that have taken place as a result of selection by breeding in the commercial pig sector. The new insights provide information about evolution and may also help to make selection in pig breeding more specific.