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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Development of methodologies for sheep health genetics


This proposal aims to support the reintegration of a researcher (Dr. van Kaam) into his professional scientific career being involved in the research activities of a host institution (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia "A. Mirri") for the eradication of the susceptible alleles in scrapie. Scrapie is a disease occurring in sheep and is related to BSE in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. If it would be found that BSE could be transmitted from cattle to sheep then the effects would be huge due to the known effect of BSE causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. To avoid human health risks the EU is implementing policies for selection against certain alleles of the PrP gene, which make sheep susceptible to scrapie.

Effective selection requires proper animal identification and pedigree registration. Pedigree information in sheep is however very inaccurate due to multiple rams being used for natural mating leading to uncertain sires. With uncertain sires the genotype of offspring cannot be inferred. Therefore uncertain sires are a problem in the eradication of scrapie susceptible PrP alleles and also in breeding value estimation. The requirement of genotyping for the PrP gene opens the opportunity of reconstructing pedigrees by typ ing some additional genetic markers.

The proposed project aims at development of methodologies to assist in pedigree reconstruction and verification and in validation of genotyping to prevent genotype errors. Pedigree reconstruction and verification will b e handled using Bayesian statistics to infer which candidate parents are most likely the true parents given genetic marker and phenotypic information. Furthermore the project aims at obtaining additional knowledge to adjust the breeding scheme and the geno-typing scheme to each other in order to be efficient. This will be achieved using simulation of various selection scenarios.

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Via Gino Marinuzzi 3

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