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Identification of Metabolic Markers for On-farm Selection of Gilts with High Reproductive Potential

Investigator(s)

Principal investigator: Julang Li

What challenge does "Identification of Metabolic Markers for On-farm Selection of Gilts with High Reproductive Potential" address?

The ability to identify highly reproductive gilts (female pigs under one year of age) for replacement into the breeding stock is one of the keys for profitable pork production. Currently, phenotypic, genotypic, and genetic background information is being used; however, selection is less efficient due to low heritability. This results in the recommendation to select approximately 40% more gilts than required. Genetic progress for low heritable traits such as reproductive performance might be improved using the metabolic markers present in saliva/urine/ and/or blood.

How will this research address the challenge?

This research group intends to develop an early detection assay utilizing metabolite biomarkers associated with reproductive potential of female pigs to enhance selection efficiency of gilts before entering into breeding stock. Since saliva collection from adult pigs were challenging using other traditional methods, the team developed novel methods for collecting saliva samples for metabolomic study. The samples are currently being analyzed at The Metabolomics Innovation Centre (TMIC, University of Alberta) using DI-MS/MS machine for possible validation of the hypothesis of early prediction of gilt’s reproductive potential.

What impact will the project have on agriculture?

The development of an early detection assay utilizing metabolite biomarkers will minimize the costs associated with over-selecting gilts and the resulting late cull. This will help to minimize the input costs associated with breeder replacements and improve sow productivity which will provide a competitive advantage to the Canadian pork industry.

Other information

Partners: This particular project involves the collaboration of Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement Inc. (CCSI) and The Metabolomics Innovation Centre (TMIC, University of Alberta).

Collaborators and Students: People involved in this project are Dr. Nadeem Akhtar, a Postdoctoral Fellow and Dr. Mohsen Jafarikia, an Adjunct Professor of Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Brian P. Sullivan, CEO, CCSI, and Dr. David Wishart, Professor, University of Alberta.

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