Methods for the management of genetic variability within and between breeds will be shared between livestock species and companion animals within the scientific committee of CRB-Anim. France has an array of domestic breeds which represent a major card for exploring genetic diversity and searching for genes controlling performance, phenotypes and genetic diseases. Identification of causal mutations provides new knowledge on genes’mode of action as well as indications of penetrance and frequency of a disease. As an example, the genotyping data of 500 dog samples from 36 breeds are being used by CNRS Rennes and the Swedish team of K. Lindblad-Toh, to search for selection signatures in the dog genome (Vaysse et al., 2011). Recent success stories on molecular identification of mutations for plumage colour and morphology in chickens have used DNA samples from the collection of chicken breeds kept by INRA (Gunnarsson et al., 2007, Eriksson et al., 2008, Wright et al., 2009, Hellstrom et al., 2010, Gunnarsson et al., 2011). As soon as genome sequences become available for animal species, similar results are likely to be obtained across species. For instance horses provide unique models to study athletic performance and associated pathologies. The whole field of physiology of exercise (muscle, locomotion, cardiac) is discussed in congress of sport medicine where horse models can be presented.
Breeding organisations and scientists are collaborating to monitor genetic trends in selection programmes. Genetic progress may be diminished or even suppressed by genotype x environment interactions. Environment is expected to change because of global change or because of regulatory changes which modify production conditions. Using frozen semen at intervals during a breeding programme makes possible to estimate genetic changes and efficiency of selection programmes and to assess GxE interactions by comparing progeny of ancient/current genotypes in different production conditions.
Connecting expertise and methods in genetics and reproductive physiology for livestock as well as for companion animals is a major innovation of this project. The range of species studied in this project offers an original and powerful approach for comparative biology. Important progress in germ cell biology and in iPS cells is expected from the technological developments which will provide unique models for research. Contacts will be sought with the Frozen Ark infrastructure to interact with them about procedures which can be adapted from domestic animals to endangered species, (contact David Rawson, Lutton, UK).
CRB-Anim will greatly improve the visibility of biological resources for the national and the international scientific community in animal science and will trigger their use to answer major challenges faced by the society such as climate change; food security and loss of biodiversity. It will develop awareness among research institutions and breeding organizations regarding the value of keeping collections on the long term and the benefit from sharing them on a contract basis. It will foster discussion with sociological sciences regarding the management of genetic resources, the transformation of scientific knowledge, the ethical issues and public debates around biotechnologies in animals.