Genetics Markers Hold Potential for Identifying Lines Resilient to PRRS

Farmscape for January 25, 2022

Full Interview 13:12 Listen

Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are hoping to use genetic markers to identify genetic lines of pigs capable of resisting PRRS. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome can cause early farrowing, birth of weak infected pigs or mummification and death of the fetus. Dr. John Harding, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says researchers have identified several genetic markers related to the ability of the fetus to avoid infection.

Clip-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
The objectives of our research were to better understand how the PRRS virus affects fetuses. That included the mechanisms of fetal demise or compromise as well as why some fetuses were less affected than others and this concept is known as fetal susceptibility or resilience.
With a better understanding of the mechanisms and fetal resilience in general we hope to find factors in the disease process that could potentially be blocked or altered to provide some alterative control strategies and those could be used to augment those that are presently used such as vaccination and obviously biosecurity. To accomplish this, we established a PRRS pregnant gilt model and, using gilts supplied by Fast Genetics, performed a number of experiments by inoculating pregnant gilts with a North American PRRS-2 strain at day 85 of gestation. Then, with various samples collected from gilts and fetuses, we explored other assays in the laboratories to delve into some of these mechanisms.

Dr. Harding says researchers are still sorting out the mechanisms of resilience but the long-term goal is to identify genetic factors that might be considered when developing breeding programs or therapeutic interventions.

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