Application of Genomics to Improve Swine Health and Welfare

Maintaining healthy and more profitable pig production

Swine Project

Project Leaders:
Graham Plastow, University of Alberta
John Harding, University of Saskatchewan
Bob Kemp, PigGen Canada Inc.

Project Description:

With the mapping of the pig genome, scientists now have an opportunity to apply genomic-based tools to the pork industry.

Similar tools have already revolutionized the dairy industry, providing annual benefits of over $180 million to Canada. With funding from Genome Canada (and others), researchers are applying genomics to help reduce the impact of two of the most common diseases in commercial pig production - Porcine Circovirus Associated Disease (PCVAD) and Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS). PCVAD and PRRS together, cost the Canadian pig industry $100 million in losses every year.

Scientists are studying mechanisms in pigs that make them genetically less susceptible to these diseases, providing important new diagnostic tools for breeders and expanding our understanding of disease control mechanisms. This work will lead to new strategies for disease control in addition to new drugs, improved vaccines, and a safer food chain by reducing the use of antibiotics.

Researchers are also studying public perceptions about the use of genomic technologies to prevent disease in pork production.

The project is a partnership between Livestock Gentec  (a Canada-wide genomics initiative based at the University of Alberta), the Canadian swine industry led by PigGen Canada  (a consortium of nine pig breeding organizations that represent 95 percent of pig genetics in Canada) and influential geneticists, immunologists, research and industry veterinarians as well as international research partners.

For more information contact Project Manager Jagjit Ludu or visit the project website at

Competition: 2010 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition