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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NATIONAL ANIMAL GERMPLASM PROGRAM (NAGP)

Location: Plant And Animal Genetic Resources Preservation Research Unit

Title: Genetic selection and preservation of genetic diversity

Author
item Blackburn, Harvey

Submitted to: Reproduction of Domestic Animals
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 31, 2012
Publication Date: July 1, 2012
Citation: Blackburn, H.D. 2012. Genetic selection and preservation of genetic diversity. Reproduction of Domestic Animals. 47:249-254.

Interpretive Summary: The past two centuries genetic improvement for livestock has brought vast improvements in productivity through breed development and selection. However, during the last fifty years genetic diversity has contracted due to the rapidity with which genetic progress has been made. Countries have responded to these challenges by establishing in-situ and/or ex-situ conservation programs. Gene banks have accumulated substantial quantities of germplasm that are shown to encapsulate the genetic variability at the breed level. These collections have been utilized by research and industry. This utility suggests that for the livestock industry to continue making needed changes selection efforts and conservation of genetic resources should be more closely linked and viewed synergistically. By viewing conservation and selection efforts synergistically the livestock community and consumers can benefit through greater food security.

Technical Abstract: For 100’s of years livestock producers have employed various types of selection to alter livestock populations. Current selection strategies are little different except our technologies for selection have become more powerful. Genetic resources at the breed level have risen and fallen out of favor over time. But these resources are the raw materials used to manipulate populations and therefore they are critical to past and future success of the livestock sector. With increasing ability to rapidly change genetic composition of livestock populations the conservation of these genetic resources becomes more critical. Globally awareness of the need to steward genetic resources has increased. A growing number of countries have embarked on large scale conservation efforts in the form of in-situ, ex-situ, or both approaches. Specifically, gene banking efforts have substantially increased and data is becoming available that show gene banks are successfully capturing genetic diversity for research or industry use. It is also noteworthy that both industry and the research community are utilizing gene bank holdings. As pressures grow to meet consumer demands and potential changes in production systems the linkage between selection goals and genetic conservation will increase as a mechanism to facilitate continued livestock sector development.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014