Full Genome of Domestic Pig Will Benefit Farmers & Researchers


Scientists have successfully sequenced the entire genome of a domestic pig. Credit: Photo by Eric Cheng

Scientists have finally been able to completely sequence the genome of a domestic pig, which will allow farmers to breed healthier and meatier pigs, as well as create more faithful models of human disease.

The scientists published their findings in the journal Nature. This reference genome could even allow pigs to be engineered to provide organs for transplant into human patients.


Pigs in Yorkshire pig sanctuary. Image via Wikipedia

The sequence is from a domestic Duroc pig (Sus scrofa domesticus), which was born in Illinois in 2001. A year later, it was used to create clones that were used at the National Swine Resource and Research Center (NSRRC) in Columbia, Missouri.

The NIH launched the NSRRC in 2003 to encourage new research in pig disease models. Pigs are more expensive to keep than rodents, and reproduce slower, but the similarities between pig and human anatomy as well as physiology can often be a benefit in research. Pig models have been used to create models of diseases, which have similar symptoms in humans.

Pig models are being developed for common conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and muscular dystrophy. The paper reports that 112 gene variants could be involved in human diseases. Knowledge of the genome also allows scientists to engineer pigs that could be a source of organs, including heart and liver, for humans.

The full genome will allow investigators to breed out susceptibility to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), a disease which costs the US pig industry $600 million per year.

Genome researchers have also shown by sequencing the genomes of different strains of wild and domestic pigs that the pig was domesticated independently in Asia and Europe.

Reference: “Analyses of pig genomes provide insight into porcine demography and evolution” by Martien A. M. Groenen, Alan L. Archibald, Hirohide Uenishi, Christopher K. Tuggle, Yasuhiro Takeuchi, Max F. Rothschild, Claire Rogel-Gaillard, Chankyu Park, Denis Milan, Hendrik-Jan Megens, Shengting Li, Denis M. Larkin, Heebal Kim, Laurent A. F. Frantz, Mario Caccamo, Hyeonju Ahn, Bronwen L. Aken, Anna Anselmo, Christian Anthon, Loretta Auvil, Bouabid Badaoui, Craig W. Beattie, Christian Bendixen, Daniel Berman, Frank Blecha, Jonas Blomberg, Lars Bolund, Mirte Bosse, Sara Botti, Zhan Bujie, Megan Bystrom, Boris Capitanu, Denise Carvalho-Silva, Patrick Chardon, Celine Chen, Ryan Cheng, Sang-Haeng Choi, William Chow, Richard C. Clark, Christopher Clee, Richard P. M. A. Crooijmans, Harry D. Dawson, Patrice Dehais, Fioravante De Sapio, Bert Dibbits, Nizar Drou, Zhi-Qiang Du, Kellye Eversole, João Fadista, Susan Fairley, Thomas Faraut, Geoffrey J. Faulkner, Katie E. Fowler, Merete Fredholm, Eric Fritz, James G. R. Gilbert, Elisabetta Giuffra, Jan Gorodkin, Darren K. Griffin, Jennifer L. Harrow, Alexander Hayward, Kerstin Howe, Zhi-Liang Hu, Sean J. Humphray, Toby Hunt, Henrik Hornshøj, Jin-Tae Jeon, Patric Jern, Matthew Jones, Jerzy Jurka, Hiroyuki Kanamori, Ronan Kapetanovic, Jaebum Kim, Jae-Hwan Kim, Kyu-Won Kim, Tae-Hun Kim, Greger Larson, Kyooyeol Lee, Kyung-Tai Lee, Richard Leggett, Harris A. Lewin, Yingrui Li, Wansheng Liu, Jane E. Loveland, Yao Lu, Joan K. Lunney, Jian Ma, Ole Madsen, Katherine Mann, Lucy Matthews, Stuart McLaren, Takeya Morozumi, Michael P. Murtaugh, Jitendra Narayan, Dinh Truong Nguyen, Peixiang Ni, Song-Jung Oh, Suneel Onteru, Frank Panitz, Eung-Woo Park, Hong-Seog Park, Geraldine Pascal, Yogesh Paudel, Miguel Perez-Enciso, Ricardo Ramirez-Gonzalez, James M. Reecy, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, Gary A. Rohrer, Lauretta Rund, Yongming Sang, Kyle Schachtschneider, Joshua G. Schraiber, John Schwartz, Linda Scobie, Carol Scott, Stephen Searle, Bertrand Servin, Bruce R. Southey, Goran Sperber, Peter Stadler, Jonathan V. Sweedler, Hakim Tafer, Bo Thomsen, Rashmi Wali, Jian Wang, Jun Wang, Simon White, Xun Xu, Martine Yerle, Guojie Zhang, Jianguo Zhang, Jie Zhang, Shuhong Zhao, Jane Rogers, Carol Churcher and Lawrence B. Schook, 14 November 2012, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/nature11622

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