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Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in Animal Genetics

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Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in Animal Genetics

Animal genetics addresses two major areas these are animal health and animal breeding. Genetics in animal health is related to pathogen detection and classification and closely related to food safety and microbiology as described more general in NGS in Microbiology.

Animal breeding includes not only the breeding of farm animals but also breeding of pets such as dogs, cats, or horses.

An important project is the Genome 10K project that aims to collect the DNA sequences representing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species. For sequence information on different animals including model organisms such as mouse, fly or zebrafish we refer to our list of animal genetic databases

More detailed information are available in the publication list

NGS in Animal Health

The animal farming industry is a major business sector. Infections with viruses (e.g. BVDV, PRRSV, PED) and bacteria (e.g. Mastitis, Mycobacteria, Brucellosis) causes billions of Euros losses annually. The current diagnostics is mainly focussing on antigen (ELISA), antibody (ELISA) and nucleic acid detection (qPCR) as well as on pathogen isolation. New outbreaks can cause export restrictions. In order to enable discrimination of vaccinated from infected animals the development of marker vaccines is desired.  A number of pathogens can infect different hosts including humans, these pathogens are denoted as pathogens with zoonotic potential. Some example are influenza, mycobaterium bovis, ebola, rabies, West Nile Virus, and Brucella. 

Additionally, to its meaning in the animal farming industry, animal health plays a major role for companion animals (e.g. cats, dogs, birds) and competition animals (e.g. horses, camels, dogs). 

The application of NGS in animal health enables the detection of unknown and new pathogens as well as the classification of these pathogens. The classification enables the recognition of pathogenicity factors and resistance markers and plays a pivotal role in disease and outbreak control and combating. 

Furthermore, NGS will be applied more and more in vaccine research, development and quality control. NGS enables the discrimination of vaccinated from infected animals and can help to prevent export restrictions.

NGS in Animal Breeding

Animal breeding programs help to identify animals with the highest genetic potential and enables animal producers to optimize their profitability. 

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) utilizing NGS technology for genetic screening supports the discovery of novel genetic marker spread over the complete genome. This will facilitate genotyping studies in breeding programs. The knowledge about genetic markers for geno- and phenotyping enable the development of target specific sequencing solutions for animal breeding. These target specific sequencing solutions are more simple and less cost effective compared to WGS approaches.

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