News update:May 9, 2008

Poultry breeding companies unite on genomics programme

Poultry breeding companies Aviagen, Hy-Line International and Lohmann Tierzucht have committed to a combined initiative to evaluate and implement a new genetic technology - Genome Wide Selection - in their respective breeding programmes.

The companies will use their collective experience from their individual genomics investments and sponsor a major new research initiative to advance this breeding technology.
Individually they have developed an extensive panel of markers for their unique genetic lines. The goal of this project is to optimise the effectiveness of Genome Wide Selection in its widest sense. This will lead to full-scale evaluation and ultimately to practical implementation of Genome Wide Selection in their breeding programmes.
Significant gains in overall genetic progress
The "traditional" approach to using DNA markers was to find those which accounted for large effects in animal performance. Typically this would involve typing breeding animals for a small number of markers and using that information alongside the traditional breeding technologies. This is generally known as Marker Assisted Selection. Genome Wide Selection uses thousands of markers spread across the whole genome. Each marker has a potential effect on performance ranging from small to large and all of the markers are used simultaneously. This is likely to result in significant gains in overall genetic progress relative to some of the current selection practices using pedigree phenotypic selection only.
An additional potential benefit of Genome Wide Selection will be the ability to collect phenotypic data expressed later in the life of the animal after selections have been made. In layers, for example, this will halve the effective generation interval potentially doubling the rate of genetic gain over time compared to conventional selection methods.
Source: Aviagen press release
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