Genomics Offers Potential Tool for Limiting Swine Disease

CANADA - A professor of veterinary medicine with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests the use of genomics is the way of the future for limiting disease within the swine herd, Bruce Cochrane writes.
calendar icon 27 November 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

"Limiting Disease Through Genetic Selection" was discussed last week as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2013.

Dr John Harding, a professor of veterinary medicine with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon says on the human side there's no question genomics is the future and now, with the pig genome being mapped and publicly available, we'll see the momentum continuing.

Dr John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine

The evidence is coming from a couple of different sources.

We have some experimental studies and as well we've got some findings from the industry that are pretty powerful as well and they're coming from studies both that are looking at very specific diseases such as E. coli, diarrhea and other studies that are more general in nature looking at disease robustness, some of those using natural selection, some of those using some of the genomic tools that are available to us.

I think it would be wonderful to find a silver bullet that would maybe explain general resistance or general immune response across a wide number of pathogens.

I think we'll have baby steps more in the lines of finding specific areas of the genome that relate to resistance to one or two diseases and we'll have to pick away at these one or two at a time until we get a better understanding of what's happening in the wider population with general robustness.

I think it would be premature to think that we're going to end up with a molecular test here in the future that will explain a lot of things.

It will be more baby steps in individual diseases.

Dr Harding notes the costs are coming down, there's expertise developing in North America, a research consortium has been set up to look at PRRS and Circovirus and there's no reason that can't be expanded to look at other diseases in the future.

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