A consortium of scientists from around the country has discovered a genetic marker in pigs that identifies whether or not a pig has a reduced susceptibility to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome – a disease that costs the U.S. pork industry an estimated 664-million dollars per year. According to Joan Lunney, a research scientist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, this is especially important as this location also is associated with improved growth of pigs that are infected with the PRRS virus. She says results indicate a positive effect for PRRS resistance and higher weight gain.

The research program originated through the support of the Pork Checkoff. Lisa Becton, Checkoff’s director of swine health and information, says it is – especially gratifying to achieve results like this and to envision how they can be implemented at the farm level. According to Chris Hostetler, Checkoff’s director of animal science,-  the identification of the marker gene will allow genetics companies to more easily place selection pressure on PRRS resistance, which in turn, could allow producers to introduce new “PRRS-resistant” lines into their herds.

The research team that led to this marker discovery includes scientists at USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, Kansas State University and Iowa State University. Now that scientists have found a chromosomal segment that can signify resistance to PRRS, the next step is to pinpoint the gene and determine whether it shows the same effects for other strains of the PRRS virus.

NAFB News Service