Porcine genomics delivers new tools and results: This little piggy did more than just go to market
The past decade has yielded new tools for pig geneticists and breeders thanks to the considerable developments resulting from efforts to map the pig genome. The pig genetic linkage map now has nearly 5000 loci including several hundred genes, microsatellites and amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) markers. Using tools that include somatic cell hybrid panels and radiation hybrid panels, the physical genetic map is also growing rapidly and has over 4000 genes and markers. Scientists using both exotic and commercial breeds for quantitative trait loci (QTL) scans and candidate gene analyses have identified a number of important chromosomal regions and individual genes associated with growth rate, leanness, feed intake, meat quality, litter size and disease resistance. Using marker-assisted selection (MAS) the commercial pig industry is actively incorporating these gene markers and traditional performance information to improve traits of economic importance in pig production. Researchers now have novel tools including pig gene arrays and advanced bioinformatics that are being exploited to find new candidate genes and to advance the understanding of gene function in the pig. Sequencing of the pig genome has been initiated and further sequencing is now being considered. Advances in pig genomics and directions for future research and the implications to both the pig industry and human health are reviewed.
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