Domestic animals – a treasure trove for genome biology

Friday seminar by Leif Andersson


Domestic animals provide unique opportunities for exploring genotype-phenotype relationships for several reasons. Firstly, selective breeding during thousands of years has enriched for mutations that have adapted the domestic animals to a new environment, i.e. farming under various environmental conditions. Secondly, the population structure is often favorable for genetic studies, large families and more or less closely related subpopulations (breeds). Thirdly, strong selection leaves genomic footprints that facilitate positional cloning. The development of draft genome sequences and high-density SNP maps allow us to fully exploit the potential of domestic animals as a model for advancing our understanding of biology. The combined use of whole genome resequencing, linkage mapping and linkage disequilibrium (LD) mapping within and between breeds provides a powerful approach for positional identification of both monogenic and multifactorial trait loci. The successful use of this approach for identifying genes underlying phenotypic traits will be illustrated on the basis of our research program in chicken, pig, dog and horses. Several examples showing that structural changes in the genome have contributed to fast evolution in domestic animals. I will also describe the remarkable finding that a single base change in the coding sequence of a transcription factor has a major impact on the pattern of locomotion in horses and has played a key role for diversification of the domestic horse.

Leif Andersson
Science for Life Laboratory, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Box 582, S-751 23 Uppsala, Sweden

Published Feb. 8, 2012 10:35 AM