Canadian researchers developing genomics tools to combat swine diseases

Piglets--Courtesy of Kabsik Park CC BY 2.0

A team of Canadian researchers has been formed to develop new genomics tools they hope will lead to the breeding of pigs resistant to multiple swine diseases.

The group, which recently got funding from Genome Canada's project "Genomics and Feeding the Future," includes Bonnie Mallard of the Ontario Veterinary College, Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, John Harding of the University of Saskatchewan and Bob Kemp of PigGen Canada in Guelph, The Pig Site reported. Canada exports pork to more than 100 countries, and it is the second most consumed meat in the country.

Mallard is known for developing the High Immune Response Technology tool, which uses animal genetics and immune response for breeding healthier swine. The test, which ranks animals as high, average or low immune responders to various pathogens, is currently under license to the Semex Alliance for use with cattle.

"We are hoping for the same outcome in pigs, and that is the focus of our section of the Genome Canada application," Mallard told Pig Site.

The group will test the technology to determine the range of infectious diseases in about 3,600 commercial pigs. The result, they hope, will be about $137 million in genetic and productivity improvements in swine production within 5 years of the project being completed.

- see the Pig Site story