Partners Continue to Advance Canada’s Pork Industry

University of Alberta professor of Animal Biotechnology Michael Dyck has received new funding through Genome Canada’s Genomics Application Partnership Program (GAPP).  He is no stranger to the needs of pig producers and has past experience helping the industry raise healthy pigs in a sustainable manner. The $1 million dollars in total new funding well build on that previous work to bring the research directly to producers.

Genome Alberta has been able to support Michael Dyck’s projects in the past and we are pleased to be able to work with him once again to improve the competitiveness of Canada’s pork industry.  His team will be validating the genomic indicators of disease resilience that can be used by commercial pork producers to improve their selective breeding programs.

GAPP-funded projects need end-user support and a key part of this project is another of our strategic partners, PigGen Canada. The not-for-profit organization was formed in 2009 to develop strategies and support for Canadian swine genetics research. They represent most of Canada’s swine breeding organizations and play an important role in advancing the industry’s breeding programs.

Bob Kemp is the co-lead on the new project and a member of PigGens’ Board of Directors and said, “PigGen Canada is very excited about the outcomes of this project. It provides opportunities to validate important technologies identified in the previous Genome Canada projects and ensure implementation of these important technologies into PigGen Canada member genetic improvement programs focusing on pig health”.

The breeding strategies the project will develop will increase genetic improvement in pig health, reduce antibiotic use, increase the production and competitiveness of pork products, and enhance the competitiveness of Canadian swine genetics.

Project lead Michael Dyck said “We are pleased to be able to continue working with PigGen Canada and its members on this exciting project. The GAPP funding will allow us to confirm the markers and indicator traits of disease resilience that we identified in our previous LSARP project and will help to integrate them into the industry to benefit all levels of the pig and pork production.”

Federal funding is an important part of the total funding package, and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry said, “Through investments in genomics – and research more broadly – the Government of Canada is investing in Canada’s economy. This is a great example of Canadian genetic research at work, helping to improve Canada’s standing in the very competitive global marketplace.  Research projects like this one have far-reaching impacts in all aspects of Canadians’ day-to-day lives.”

About Us:

Genome Alberta is a publicly funded not-for profit corporation which invests primarily in large-scale genome sciences research projects and technology platforms focused on areas of strategic importance to the province (e.g. human health, forestry, plant and animal agriculture, energy, and environment).  By working collaboratively with all levels of government, universities, and industry, Genome Alberta is a catalyst for a vibrant life sciences sector with social and economic benefits for Alberta and for Canada.

About the Project:

Title: Application of Genomics-based Tools to Select for Pig Disease Resilience

Leader: Michael Dyck (University of Alberta)
Receptor Leader: Bob Kemp (PigGenCanada)

Total Funding: $1,026,200

Disease is an economically important factor in Canadian pork production and is one of the most difficult challenges to manage. It also contributes to poor public perception of food animal production in terms of animal welfare, food safety, and antimicrobial resistance. Disease resilience is a quantitative trait defined as an animal’s ability to maintain performance when exposed to pathogen(s). The goal of this project is to validate biological and genomic indicators of disease resilience in commercial pork production that can be measured and implemented in genetic improvement programs. This will involve validating promising disease resilience indicator traits and genomic tests in pigs that are exposed to pathogens in a controlled environment. This is expected to increase the rate of genetic improvement in pig health by 30%, increase the production of high value pork products, and improve the competitiveness in export markets.