Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Pig Disease that Costs Millions Targeted by Genetic Study

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A fast mutating virus that affects pig herds and costs pork producers millions of pounds each year is being targeted by scientists.

A transatlantic research group is to tackle porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), which leads to reproductive failure in breeding stock and causes respiratory tract illness in young pigs.

Also known as Blue-Ear Pig Disease, the condition can prove fatal as it affects pigs' immune systems and leaves them vulnerable to other infections.

Researchers at The Roslin Insitute, at the University of Edinburgh, are working with Iowa State University, which has received a $3M grant, to find ways to tackle this devastating virus.

They will study whether some pigs have a genetic makeup that makes them less likely to become sick following infections. This knowledge could help to ensure the breeding of healthier pigs, which are less likely to succumb to PRRS.

The virus is especially virulent as it evolves rapidly. As a result it now has many genetic variants. This causes challenges in vaccine production, as an inoculation against one strain does not protect against another strain of the virus.

The research will include look at whether breeding for a specific gene variant, which protects against PRSS, does not have knock-on effects such as making the animal more vulnerable to another disease.

Although the exact economic impact of PRRSV has not yet been quantified in Europe, the virus is estimated to cost the American swine industry around $600M a year - almost a third of its losses related to infectious diseases.

Professor Steve Bishop, of The Roslin Institute said: "The constant mutation of the PRRS virus means that the efficacy of vaccines is severely hindered. This collaborative research project will enable us to assess the potential use of breeding to help reduce the impacts of this problematic disease."

The $3M grant to look into PRRS was awarded by the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, while The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Jack Dekkers, from Iowa State University, said: "This grant is going to help us continue our work towards finding a way for the pork industry to get a handle on a costly and difficult-to-control disease, and we're excited to move forward with our collaborators."

Identifying gene variants that protect against infection can be a tricky process, and researchers have to be certain that breeding for a specific gene variant that makes pigs less susceptible to PRRS doesn't have unintended consequences, such as making the animal more vulnerable to another disease.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Expanding the DNA Alphabet: 'Extra' DNA Base Found to be Stable in Mammals
A rare DNA base, previously thought to be a temporary modification, has been shown to be stable in mammalian DNA, suggesting that it plays a key role in cellular function.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Controlling Leaf Blotch Disease In Wheat
Scientists have found a genetic mechanism that could stop the spread of a "devastating" disease threatening wheat crops.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
Rising Temperatures Predicted to Lower Wheat Yields
An international consortium of researchers has used big data sets to predict the effects climate change on global wheat yields.
Friday, December 26, 2014
UK And India Collaborate On Future-Proof Crops
Drought-tolerant tomatoes, improved wheat and grass pea could provide crops for the future.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Better Understanding of Disease Resistance Genes in Crops
Effector-triggered defence concept describes how plants protect themselves against the apoplast.
Friday, June 06, 2014
Public-private Research Partnership to Support Sustainable Agricultural Systems
The partnership will support projects that will help provide solutions to key challenges affecting the sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors.
Friday, May 23, 2014
A Synthetic Biology Approach to Improve Photosynthesis
Assembling a compartment inside chloroplasts of flowering plants has the potential to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Green Vaccination: Boosting Plant Immunity Without Side Effects
A team of international researchers has uncovered a mechanism by which plants are able to better defend themselves against disease causing pathogens.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Rothamsted Research Granted Permission for new GM Field Trial
Permission granted by Defra for Rothamsted to carry out a field trial with GM Camelina plants that produce omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.
Monday, April 28, 2014
BBSRC, NSF Co-Fund International Arabidopsis Resource

Friday, March 14, 2014
Genetic traits in cattle identified that might allow farmers to breed livestock with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB)
The BBSRC-funded scientists compared the genetic code of TB-infected animals with that of disease-free cattle, could help to impact on a disease that leads to major economic losses worldwide.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
UK Establishes Three New Synthetic Biology Research Centres
Bristol, Nottingham and a Cambridge/Norwich partnership will be UK centres for synthetic biology.
Friday, January 31, 2014
£17.7M for Major Long-Term Research Projects to Harness the Power of Bioscience
Research for agriculture, health, alternatives to fossil fuels, and new commercial products.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Crop-Infecting Virus Forces Aphids to Spread Disease
Viruses alter plant biochemistry in order to manipulate visiting aphids into spreading infection.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Octocopter to Monitor Crops
BBSRC has invested in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to monitor crops and crop experiments as part of several genetic improvement projects.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Scientific News
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
TGAC Announces Milestone in Wheat Research
A more complete and accurate wheat genome assembly is being made available to researchers, by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) on 12 November 2015.
Shedding Light on the Origin of the Date Palm
Researchers also find ‘genetic mutation’ that is responsible for dates’ color.
New Way to Find DNA Damage
University of Utah chemists devised a new way to detect chemical damage to DNA that sometimes leads to genetic mutations responsible for many diseases, including various cancers and neurological disorders.
Speeding Up Potato Breeding
A joint project is investigating the potential of drones for speeding up the development of new potato varieties.
Gene Editing Could Enable Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant
The largest number of simultaneous gene edits ever accomplished in the genome could help bridge the gap between organ transplant scarcity and the countless patients who need them.
Ancestors of Land Plants Were Wired to Make the Leap to Shore
When the algal ancestor of modern land plants made the transition from aquatic environments to an inhospitable shore 450 million years ago, it changed the world by dramatically altering climate and setting the stage for the vast array of terrestrial life.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos