Funding that came through ACES allowed Schook and others to put together the Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium, an alliance of university, industry, and government laboratories in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The USDA committed 10 million dollars to the project. Today the project includes scientists from more than 50 research groups.
Schook said that the project has three main objectives: (1) to serve as a blueprint for understanding evolution and domestication, (2) to advance research on animal production and health, and (3) to explore ways to use the pig in biomedical applications.
The first publication, which just appeared in Nature, focuses on the pig's evolution. Researchers compared the reference genome from T.J. Tabasco with genomes of wild and domestic pigs from Europe and Asia (including archaeological and museum samples), and to human, mouse, dog, horse, and cow genomes.
"The pig is interesting because the wild boar still exists," Schook explained. "We could look at domestication, and we also looked at speciation. From an evolutionary perspective, these Sus species diverge in a very short time."
The researchers traced the domestic pig back to Southeast Asia. From there, it spread across Eurasia. The glaciation period separated the pigs into two groups about one million years ago. Today they are almost sub-species. "However, their chromosome structures have stayed very similar," Schook noted.
Pigs were independently domesticated in western Eurasia and East Asia 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. There is evidence that as the early European settlers moved around, they bred the domesticated females with wild boars.
Pigs in Central and South America are thought to have originated on the Iberian Peninsula. In a paper soon to be published in Heredity, the researchers tracked how these pigs adapted to different climates, altitudes, and diets.
As well as providing insights into how the pig evolved, the genome sequencing provides valuable new tools for animal breeding. One is a DNA test that can identify individual pigs that are less susceptible to certain diseases or have a genetic predisposition to fattening rapidly, eating less, and bearing many offspring.
On the biomedical side, researchers will build on ongoing efforts to use the pig to model human diseases, including lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The sequencing identified 112 genes in pigs that are also responsible for diseases in people, suggesting that pigs could be used for drug testing.
Another direction is to use pigs as a source of organs for humans. Schook mentioned islet cells for diabetics as an example.
"Human transplant of eyelets doesn't work because there's not enough cells in a single pancreas," he explained. "If you could have an animal source, even if they get rejected, they're plentiful."
Clearly, there are a plenitude of exciting possibilities for future research. "For me, the next phase is looking at this concept of epigenomics–of how the environment affects gene expression," Schook said.
Other U of I researchers involved in the project are: Jon Beever, Laurie Rund, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, Bruce Southy, and Jonathan Sweedler. Harris Lewin and Denis Larkin, who have left the U of I, are also part of the project.
The research was recently published in Nature and is available at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7424/full/nature11622.html.
Susan Jongeneel | EurekAlert!
New insight into why Pierce's disease is so deadly to grapevines
11.06.2018 | University of California - Davis
Where are Europe’s last primary forests?
29.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
21.06.2018 | Life Sciences
21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences