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European grant for pig genome research

The European research organisation ERC (European Research Council) has allowed a grant of €2.5 million to Dutch animal genome researcher Prof Dr Martien Groenen, Wageningen University and Research Centre.

The scientist received the 'Advanced Grant' for his quality as European research leader in combination with his proposal to conduct innovative research. His research is called Molecular characterization of generic factors in the pig under selection during speciation, domestication and breeding.

The creation of new species has intrigued scientists ever since the age of Charles Darwin. Comparing the current pig's genome to the Javan wart hog and the bearded pig, a species living in Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, Groenen aims to increase knowledge on this process.

Recent technological revolutions have now made it possible to map the entire genome of individual species. By comparing individuals of several pig races, the research team hopes to acquire more knowledge what changes have occurred in the pig genome since its domestication, about 9,000 years ago.

In addition, more recent changes, related to selection in pig breeding, will be investigated. DNA presence from 1,000s of years old bones is very important in this sense. It is expected these new ideas will not only teach lessons on evolution but may also contribute to better select in pig breeding.

Groenen, born in 1958, has been professor at Wageningen University as from 2002. He has been involved in livestock genome mapping as from the early nineties. 

In 2004 he published the chicken genome sequence in three publications in Nature. At the moment he is also involved in genome sequence unravelling of the pig, turkey, duck and the great tit.

Related websites:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
European Research Council (ERC)

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