Genetic Markers Identified for Disease Tolerance

US - Mapping the genes that enable pigs to minimise the devastating effects of PRRS is significant advance, according to Newsham Choice Genetics researchers
calendar icon 11 October 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Newsham Choice Genetics has completed the first phase of a comprehensive study to discover and map genes associated with health traits in pigs.

The study included more than 1,100 fully pedigreed pigs from Newsham's EBX and GX lines, each challenged during the nursery period with specific amounts of a well-characterised field strain of the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus. Designed not only to reveal new information about variation in the basic underlying response to the PRRS challenge, the study also aimed to characterise each piglet's overall health and performance in response to the challenge.

Each of the pigs was genotyped for more than 64,000 markers throughout the genome so that the locations of genes contributing to differences in disease tolerance and animal health could be determined.

Dr Archie Clutter, vice president of Research and Development for Newsham Choice Genetics, explained: "Consistent with what we've observed in our genomics discoveries related to production and reproduction traits, each of the disease tolerance traits we've studied is genetically complex and affected by many genes. While we expect some of these genes to be specific to a PRRS response, we expect many to be more generally important for disease tolerance and animal health.

"We are now completing Phase-2 Validation of these initial discoveries in which we use independent samples collected from disease breaks in the field to confirm the marker associations with pig health and any associations with performance traits."

Mark Weaver, DVM, CEO of Newsham Choice Genetics, added: "The magnitude of this study has resulted in unprecedented power to discover selection tools that can be applied directly in the lines of Newsham Choice Genetics to improve genetic merit for tolerance."

Time-line for the project includes the first use of these selection tools for improved disease tolerance in the first half of 2011.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome (PRRS) by clicking here.
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