Identifying Genes Of Economic Importance For Pig Production

Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2004. Traditional quantitative approaches to animal breeding rely upon recording data from phenotypic traits of interest, such as growth rate, loin eye area, and backfat, on a large number of individuals. A battery of statistical methods is applied to these records in order to identify and select the superior individuals, which in turn become the parents of the next generation. This strategy is highly efficient when dealing with traits that are moderately or highly heritable, such as growth rates, and has been used world wide in improving traits of interest. At the same time, there are traits where the parents phenotype is a poor predictor of their offsprings phenotype, such as reproductive and disease related traits. Furthermore, there are also traits of economic importance to the pig industry, such as meat quality and longevity, whose phenotype is only measured at a time where we can no longer use the animals for breeding purposes. Therefore, in order to tackle these problems, there is a need for other approaches in livestock selection. Recent advances in DNA technology have given researchers the ability to identify genes that control traits important to pig production. These technologies are now being used in our group to find such genes. Eventual discovery of these genes will help in selection of livestock.