Location: Reproduction Research
Title: Current genetic technologies to improve efficiency of livestock production Authors
Submitted to: Society for the Study of Reproduction Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2011
Publication Date: July 30, 2011
Citation: Nonneman, D.J., Rohrer, G.A., Rempel, L.A., Lents, C.A., Vallet, J.L. 2011. Current genetic technologies to improve efficiency of livestock production [abstract]. Biology of Reproduction. 85 (1 Supplement):83 (Abstract # 107). Technical Abstract: Modern molecular technologies are making revolutionary advances in genetics and genomics of human and animal species. The resources available in livestock species have been making parallel advances to that of human and rodents and are allowing for the discovery of gene function for complex traits. Genome sequences of livestock species have provided accessibility to genes and their annotation. High-throughput methods for sequencing and genotyping have permitted a whole genome assessment of variation and expression associated with phenotype. This will undoubtedly lead to the discovery of novel biological mechanisms. Although much of our knowledge of gene function has been gathered by gene ablation or over expression and physiology, genetic approaches are providing information by exploiting the effects of existing genetic variation on economically and biologically important phenotypic traits. The traits of most interest for livestock species include fertility, reproduction, growth rate and efficiency, carcass and meat quality, and disease resistance. Most of the reproductive traits are lowly heritable, which requires greater efforts and larger number of animals to identify genes underlying these traits. Because the female contributes most of the complexity of reproduction in livestock, more attention has been focused on improving and understanding those traits. In the cow and pig we are using high-density SNP genotyping chips to identify genomic associations of economically important traits in heavily phenotyped animals. Specifically in swine, we are looking for genes that control age and attainment of puberty, ovulation rate (a component trait of litter size), farrowing traits and weaning to estrus interval. Using the Porcine SNP beadchip we have identified several genomic regions associated with these traits; some of these regions contain genes that have been previously purported as candidate genes controlling reproductive traits, namely FSHB, NCOA1, INHBA and HSD17B4 for age of puberty. While the foremost objective for this research is to identify genetic markers for selection of superior breeding animals and to guide production decisions, identification of genes impacting these reproductive traits will expand what we know about the biology of reproduction and possibly allow us to design interventions to improve reproductive success, monitor reproductive ability and manage animals more effectively. More efficient animal production would reduce costs for the producers and consumers and result in less of an environmental footprint for the ever increasing global need of livestock production. *USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.