Prospects and challenges for the conservation of farm animal genomic resources, 2015-2025

Bruford, M.W., Ginja, C., Hoffmann, I. and Hall, S. (2015) Prospects and challenges for the conservation of farm animal genomic resources, 2015-2025. Frontiers in Genetics, 6 (314). ISSN 1664-8021

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Livestock conservation practice is changing rapidly in light of policy developments, climate
change and diversifying market demands. The last decade has seen a step change in
technology and analytical approaches available to define, manage and conserve Farm
Animal Genomic Resources (FAnGR). However, these rapid changes pose challenges for
FAnGR conservation in terms of technological continuity, analytical capacity and integrative
methodologies needed to fully exploit new, multidimensional data. The final conference of the
ESF Genomic Resources program aimed to address these interdisciplinary problems in an
attempt to contribute to the agenda for research and policy development directions during the
coming decade. By 2020, according to the Convention on Biodiversity’s Aichi Target 13,
signatories should ensure that “… the genetic diversity of … farmed and domesticated
animals and of wild relatives … is maintained, and strategies have been developed and
implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.”
However, the real extent of genetic erosion is very difficult to measure using current data.
Therefore, this challenging target demands better coverage, understanding and utilization of
genomic and environmental data, the development of optimized ways to integrate these data
with social and other sciences and policy analysis to enable more flexible, evidence-based
models to underpin FAnGR conservation. At the conference, we attempted to identify the
most important problems for effective livestock genomic resource conservation during the
next decade. Twenty priority questions were identified that could be broadly categorised into
challenges related to methodology, analytical approaches, data management and
conservation. It should be acknowledged here that while the focus of our meeting was
predominantly around genetics, genomics and animal science, many of the practical
challenges facing conservation of genomic resources are societal in origin and are
predicated on the value (e.g. socio-economic and cultural) of these resources to farmers,
rural communities and society as a whole. The overall conclusion is that despite the fact that
the livestock sector has been relatively well-organised in the application of genetic
methodologies to date, there is still a large gap between the current state-of-the-art in the
use of tools to characterise genomic resources and its application to many non commercial
and local breeds, hampering the consistent utilisation of genetic and genomic data as
indicators of genetic erosion and diversity. The livestock genomic sector therefore needs to
make a concerted effort in the coming decade to enable to the democratisation of the
powerful tools that are now at its disposal, and to ensure that they are applied in the context
of breed conservation as well as development.

Keywords:genetics, conservation genetics, genomics, livestock, JCOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C400 Genetics
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D420 Livestock
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:22891
Deposited On:15 Apr 2016 13:24

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