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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics and Animal Breeding » Research » Research Project #441027

Research Project: Developing an Ovine Pangenome

Location: Genetics and Animal Breeding

Project Number: 3040-31000-104-007-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2021
End Date: Dec 31, 2024

Develop an ovine pangenome. The biomedical research community has demonstrated that a single individual reference genome is inadequate to represent a species, as reference-quality genome assemblies of various populations of humans has identified genomic regions that are unique to particular subpopulations. This community is moving towards a pangenome reference that includes all extant DNA segments found among humans. We have demonstrated that sheep have higher diversity than human populations and therefore hypothesize that the ovine pangenome will be even larger than that of humans. This grant initiates a pangenome by producing reference-quality genome assemblies of eight sheep breeds.

The most efficient method available for reference-quality genome assembly is one developed by ARS in collaboration with NHGRI, known as trio binning. In this approach, a cross between two breeds can be sequenced and provide two genome assemblies, one for each parental breed. The grant proposes to create four such crosses, so a total of eight breeds will be represented in addition to the four breeds having draft genome assemblies of varying quality. The assemblies will be compared to identify unique genome segments in each breed.