Utilization of farm animal genetic resources in a changing agro-ecological environment in the Nordic countries

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  • Juha Kantanen, Green Technology, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Finland
  • Peter Løvendahl
  • Erling Strandberg, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sverige
  • Emma Eythorsdottir, Agricultural University of Iceland, Island
  • Meng-Hua Li, Green Technology, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Finland
  • Anne Kettunen-Præbel, NordGen, Nordic Genetic Resource Center, Norge
  • Peer Berg
  • Theo Meuwissen, Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norge
Livestock production is the most important component of northern European agriculture and contributes to and will be affected by climate change. Nevertheless, the role of farm animal genetic resources in the adaptation to new agro-ecological conditions and mitigation of animal production’s effects on climate change has been inadequately discussed despite there being several important associations between animal genetic resources and climate change issues. The sustainability of animal production systems and future food security require access to a wide diversity of animal genetic resources. There are several genetic questions that should be considered in strategies promoting adaptation to climate change and mitigation of environmental effects of livestock production. For example, it may become important to choose among breeds and even among farm animal species according to their suitability to a future with altered production systems. Some animals with useful phenotypes and genotypes may be more useful than others in the changing environment. Robust animal breeds with the potential to adapt to new agro-ecological conditions and tolerate new diseases will be needed. The key issue in mitigation of harmful greenhouse gas effects induced by livestock production is the reduction of methane (CH4) emissions from ruminants. There are differences in CH4 emissions among breeds and among individual animals within breeds that suggest a potential for improvement in the trait through genetic selection. Characterization of breeds and individuals with modern genomic tools should be applied to identify breeds that have genetically adapted to marginal conditions and to get critical information for breeding and conservation programs for farm animal genetic resources. We conclude that phenotyping and genomic technologies and adoption of new breeding approaches, such as genomic selection introgression, will promote breeding for useful characters in livestock species
TidsskriftFrontiers in Genetics
Sider (fra-til)1-9
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2015

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