Newsham Choice Genetics researchers identify genetic markers for swine disease tolerance

Newsham Choice Genetics, a worldwide leader in swine genetics technology, has completed the first phase of a comprehensive study to discover and map genes associated with health traits in pigs.

The study included more than 1,100 fully pedigreed pigs from Newsham's EBX and GX lines, each challenged during the nursery period with specific amounts of a well-characterized field strain of the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus. Designed to not only reveal new information about variation in the basic underlying response to the PRRS challenge, the study also aimed to characterize each piglet's overall health and performance in response to the challenge.
Each of the pigs was genotyped for more than 64,000 markers throughout the genome so that the locations of genes contributing to differences in disease tolerance and animal health could be determined.
“Consistent with what we've observed in our genomics discoveries related to production and reproduction traits, each of the disease tolerance traits we've studied is genetically complex and affected by many genes,” says Archie Clutter, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development for Newsham Choice Genetics. “While we expect some of these genes to be specific to a PRRS response, we expect many to be more generally important for disease tolerance and animal health.
 “We are now completing Phase-2 Validation of these initial discoveries in which we use independent samples collected from disease breaks in the field to confirm the marker associations with pig health and any associations with performance traits,” Clutter adds.
“The magnitude of this study has resulted in unprecedented power to discover selection tools that can be applied directly in the lines of Newsham Choice Genetics to improve genetic merit for tolerance,” says Mark Weaver, DVM, CEO of Newsham Choice Genetics.
Timeline for the project includes the first use of these selection tools for improved disease tolerance in the first half of 2011.
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