Functional genomics: Tools for improving farm animal health and welfare

Institute of Molecular Animal Breeding and Biotechnology, Gene Center of the Ludwig-Maximilian University, Feodor-Lynen-Strasse 25, 81377 Munich, Germany.
Revue scientifique et technique (International Office of Epizootics) (Impact Factor: 0.91). 05/2005; 24(1):355-77.
Source: PubMed


The first genome sequence assemblies of farm animal species are now accessible through public domain databases, and further sequencing projects are in rapid progress. In addition, large collections of expressed sequences have been obtained, which will aid in constructing annotated transcript maps for many economically important species. Thus, the breeding of farm animals is entering the post-genome era. Functional genomics, defined as applying global experimental approaches to assess gene function, by using the information and reagents provided by structural genomics (i.e. mapping and sequencing), has become the focus of interest. Combining a holistic view of phenotypes at the molecular level with genetic marker data seems a particularly promising approach for improving health and welfare traits in farm animals. These traits are often difficult to define. They suffer from low heritabilities and a corresponding lack of genetic gain in conventional selection and breeding programmes. At the same time, genomic information from micro-organisms and parasites offers the potential for new vaccines and therapeutics. This review describes major functional genomics tools, lists genomic resources available for farm animals and discusses the prospects and challenges of functional genomics in improving the health and welfare of farm animals.

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    • "On the other hand, the candidate gene approach uses physiological findings to identify variations in genes that are associated with the phenotype of interest. ÔOmicsÕ technologies facilitate a deeper insight into the molecular pathways involved in key steps of reproduction (Hiendleder et al. 2005). Additional knowledge of genes and their products will make a substantial contribution to understanding and eventually improving fertility in dairy cattle (e.g. "
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    • "Such knowledge can ultimately lead to breakthroughs in farm animal production and welfare, enhancing profitability and trade of animal agriculture and its products (e.g. Hiendleder et al., 2005; Cassar-Malek et al., 2008). "
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