Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The role of genomics in pig improvement

D. J. Garrick
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

AL Rae Centre, Massey University, Ruakura, Hamilton, New Zealand. Email: D.Garrick@massey.ac.nz

Animal Production Science 57(12) 2360-2365 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17277
Submitted: 2 May 2017  Accepted: 16 August 2017   Published: 20 November 2017

Abstract

Genomic prediction uses marker genotypes distributed throughout the genome to track the inheritance of chromosome fragments and quantify their contribution to the superiority or inferiority of breeding merit. It does this by using a so-called training population of historical animals with both genotype and phenotypic measures. Genotyping adds additional costs to an improvement program, so these costs must be offset elsewhere for there to be net benefit from adopting genomics in pig improvement. Genomic information is used implicitly or explicitly to predict the merit of young selection candidates more reliably than is the case when using only pedigree and phenotypic performance information. More accurate genomic prediction of index merit in young selection candidates results in faster genetic progress. Further, the technology allows good use to be made of phenotypic measures from non-traditional sources, including descendants of nucleus animals whose performance is measured in the commercial sector. This facilitates nucleus selection to include more reliable predictions for disease-resistance, and carcass and meat-quality traits, other traits with low heritability or those measured late in life, and to directly target selection for crossbred rather than purebred performance. Collectively, these features allow genomic prediction to provide a more balanced response to selection with respect to the entire portfolio of traits that influence income and costs in pig-production systems. Achieving the full cost–benefit potential from using genomics will not occur from simply genotyping nucleus animals and using this information in prediction, it requires innovation, ongoing phenotyping and genotyping, and re-examination of all the systems and processes involved in pig improvement.

Additional keywords: crossbred performance, evaluation, selection.


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