May 24, 2017
Scientists at the University of Kent in the U.K., working with colleagues from genetic research industry partners Cytocell Ltd. and JSR Genetics, have developed a new genetic screening device and protocol to help pig breeding.
Through her work, Dr. Rebecca O'Connor in Kent's School of Biosciences found previously undiscovered, fundamental flaws in the pig genome. The results of her discovery have contributed to improved mapping of the pig genome.
In pigs — which provide 43% of the meat consumed worldwide — a chromosome defect can affect fertility.
With each pig producing as many as 14 piglets per litter, a faulty chromosome can reduce this by as much as half, at a massive economic cost to the producer.
O'Connor's research has led to the development of chromosome screening devices for both pigs and cattle and a chromosome screening service for multiple agricultural food providers.
With 13 clients in eight different countries, the team is now screening hundreds of samples a year as well as adapting the method to screen for chromosomal abnormalities in other species.
The research findings were presented to agriculture industry leaders at the Pig Breeders Round Table Conference, one of the foremost international conferences on livestock genetics, held at the University of Kent in May.
The paper, "Isolation of Subtelomeric Sequences of Porcine Chromosomes for Translocation Screening Reveals Errors in the Pig Genome Assembly," was published in Animal Genetics.
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