Development of a prediction screening model for porcine disease resilience based on a combination of mRNAs and non-coding RNA biomarkers

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $130,000
Commodity: Pork
Organization: University of Alberta
Investigator: Graham Plastow

Canadian pork industry revenues top $3B CAD, and the pork sector accounts for 30% of total livestock shipments and 10% of all farm cash receipts.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Canadian pork industry revenues top $3B CAD, and the pork sector accounts for 30% of total livestock shipments and 10% of all farm cash receipts. Canada is also a major supplier of improved genetics to the world with over $45M in sales in 2019.

Infectious disease in pigs has a very large impact on pig welfare, productivity and producer income, antimicrobial use, and the environmental footprint of pig production in Canada. Issues becoming increasingly important for the public and sustainability of the industry. Multiple pathogens cause disease in pigs requiring a range of measures to combat them including biosecurity, vaccination, and antimicrobial treatment. A relatively unexplored opportunity is the selection of animals that maintain their growth performance despite becoming infected whatever the pathogen, which is termed disease resilience.

Livestock Gentec with PigGen Canada, has developed a polymicrobial disease challenge to help develop novel tools to select for resilient pigs. This project aims to identify novel biomarkers to select for disease resilience producing more pork from fewer resources to improve sustainability.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This project provides an opportunity for the application of RNA genomics in swing to select for resilience as it is very difficult to make genetic improvement in health traits by traditional means. If biomarkers can be identified that explain significant variation in the susceptibility of pigs to disease, this will support selection of healthier pigs.

This research aims to develop novel tools to select for resilient pigs, thereby breeding for disease resistance, producing more pork with fewer resources, improving sustainability.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

This project is part of a large-scale effort to develop tools to select for disease resilience in pigs. Samples are derived from pigs belonging to the members of PigGen Canada, a consortium of the main seven breeding companies operating in Canada. This means that knowledge transfer is managed in parallel with research, so new methods of phenotyping will be adopted rapidly by the consortium.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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