Washington, Nov 3 (ANI): In a breakthrough study, researchers have produced a first draft of the genome of a domesticated pig-an achievement that will lead to insights in agriculture, medicine, conservation and evolution.
With the discovery, a red-haired Duroc pig from a farm at the University of Illinois has now joined the growing list of domesticated animals that have had their genomes sequenced.
"The pig is a unique animal that is important for food and that is used as an animal model for human disease. And because the native wild animals are still in existence, it is a really exciting animal to look at to learn about the genomic effects of domestication," said Larry Schook, a University of Illinois professor of biomedical sciences and leader of the sequencing project.
The sequencing project involved an international team of scientists and genome-sequencing centers.
The draft sequence, which is about 98 percent complete, will allow researchers to pinpoint genes that are useful to pork production or are involved in immunity or other important physiological processes in the pig.
It will enhance breeding practices, offer insight into diseases that afflict pigs (and, sometimes, also humans) and will assist in efforts to preserve the global heritage of rare, endangered and wild pigs.
In addition, it will also be important for the study of human health because pigs are very similar to humans in their physiology, behaviour and nutritional needs.
"We are excited to have the swine genome sequence and anticipate this will accelerate the rate of genetic improvement in swine as the bovine sequence is impacting the dairy industry's genetic gains," said Steve Kappes, deputy administrator of Animal Production and Protection for the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
"This is a great day for the pig research community," said professor Alan Archibald, of the Roslin Institute and R(D)SVS at the University of Edinburgh.
The pig genome sequence is an essential first tool that will allow scientists to delve into the health, science and natural history of the pig, said Schook.
"This is just the end of the beginning of the process. Now we're just beginning to be able to answer a lot of questions about the pig," he said. "
Researchers will announce the achievement at a meeting at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England. (ANI)