Pigs join the ranks of domesticated animals with sequenced genomes


Pigs join the ranks of domesticated animals with sequenced genomes

Nov 14, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Champaign, Ill. -- Dogs, cats, horses, cows, and now pigs. A first draft of the swine genome has been mapped, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The pig whose genes have been sequenced is a red-haired Duroc from a farm at the University of Illinois.

Most of the sequencing was performed at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, based in Hinxton, England, but help was provided by scientists and genome-sequencing centers around the world. Funding was a global effort as well, with the $24.3 million bill to complete the sequencing footed by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and American, Asian, and European funders.

Researchers will now be able to use the genome to search for genes that can improve pork production and breeding practices, provide clues to swine diseases, and help preserve endangered and wild pigs globally. In addition, pigs are often used as human models of disease since the two species are similar physiologically and behaviorally and have related nutritional needs. So the swine genome will also benefit research into human health.

"This sequence provides a tool of real value in helping the research community to better understand human diseases, in particular by facilitating cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal and immunological studies," says Allan Bradley, director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Thanks to the immediate release of sequence data as it has been produced, the scientific impact of this research is already being felt."