Genome Prairie

Swine Improvement

Maintaining healthy and more profitable pig production

With the mapping of the pig genome, scientists now have an opportunity to apply genomic-based tools to the pork industry. Genome Prairie is the co-lead for the Application of Genomics to Improve Swine Health and Welfare project.

Similar tools have already revolutionized the dairy industry, providing annual benefits of over $180 million to Canada. With funding from Genome Canada and others, researchers applied genomics to help reduce the impact of two of the most common diseases in commercial pig production - Porcine Circovirus Associated Disease (PCVAD) and Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS). PCVAD and PRRS together, cost the Canadian pig industry $100 million in losses every year.

Through this project scientists studied mechanisms in pigs that make them genetically less susceptible to these diseases, providing important new diagnostic tools for breeders and expanding our understanding of disease control mechanisms. This work can be used to develop new strategies for disease control in addition to the development of new drugs, improved vaccines, and a safer food chain by reducing the use of antibiotics.

Researchers also studied public perceptions about the use of genomic technologies to prevent disease in pork production.

Research ResultsResearch Results

  • PHGC Trial #13 has been completed at Kansas State.
  • Currently have collected a 2175 serum samples and 1547 tissue samples (mostly blood) for DNA from swine in the gilt acclimation research project.

Notable OutcomesNotable Outcomes

  • Identification of a disease resistance locus on the Sus scrofa Chromosome 4 (SSC4)
  • Successfully recruited commercial herds for participation in the research project. Genotyping for the first 8 challenge trials has been completed.

Quick Facts

Project Leaders:

Graham Plastow, University of Alberta
John Harding, University of Saskatchewan
Bob Kemp, PigGen Canada Inc. 

Project Manager:

Jagjit Ludu, University of Alberta

Project Value:

$12.4 Million

Genome Canada Contribution:

$4.9 Million

Other Funding Partners:


Other Funding Partners:

$7 Million

Project Status:

Ongoing (2010 - 2015)


Genome Canada 2010 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition