The Department of Agriculture has awarded $10 million to the University of Illinois to obtain a draft sequence of the swine genome.
A female Duroc pig will be the source of the DNA for the two-year project—which could lead to the development of new genetic tools to identify and select pigs that resist infectious diseases, yield larger litter sizes, and produce leaner cuts of meat.
The swine genome is similar to the human genome in size, complexity, and organization. Because of these similarities, understanding the swine genome could lead to biomedical advances such as pig-to-human organ transplants and treatments for disease in humans.
The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service administered the grant through the National Research Initiative.
Additional funding for the project came from the National Pork Board, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa State University, North Carolina Pork Council, and North Carolina State University.
Institutions collaborating with the University of Illinois include Iowa State University's Center for Integrated Animal Genomics; University of Nevada, Reno; Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, United Kingdom; Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland; the Cellular Genetics Laboratory of France's National Institute for Agricultural Research, Toulouse; and the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb.
More information about the Swine Genomics Program at the University of Illinois is available at www.swinegenomics.com.