A $10 million US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant enabless members of the Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium to develop a draft sequence of the pig genome.
The project, carried out by this international coalition of researchers, has many potential benefits, including improved pork production efficiency, industry growth and reduced risk of pig disease.
The pig genome will be the first mammalian genome to have a complete physical (bacterial artificial chromosome, or BAC) map before being sequenced.
Previous genome sequencing efforts for other organisms have used a ‘whole-genome shotgun’ approach to assemble approximately 30 million sequencing segments, similar to assembling a 30-million-piece jigsaw puzzle.
Before receiving the sequencing grant, the consortium had already identified more than 267,000 markers on the BAC map, allowing the researchers to proceed in a more orderly fashion because they already knew where most of the segments belonged. The task will now be more like assembling 25,000 puzzles with 1,200 pieces each.
Genomics refers to mapping and sequencing of the genetic material of a particular species and then associating the genes with the traits they express. ‘Genomic libraries’ are constructed for each species to decipher the genetic information and associate it with traits.