This paper explores host genetic variation in resistance to infectious diseases in livestock, and the utilization of the results of disease genetic studies to breed animals for increased resistance. Issues surrounding the interpretation of field disease data are outlined and applied to two case studies, infectious pancreatic necrosis in salmon, where resistance is largely governed by a single locus, and bovine tuberculosis where resistance is heritable but polygenic. Lessons learnt are discussed, with emphases given to the need for the geneticist to understand the biology and epidemiology of the disease under consideration and fully engage with all stakeholders involved in disease control, including animal health experts. Disease resistance studies will continue to be of high priority to geneticists, with future challenges likely to lie in the provision of suitable phenotypes, and interpretation of these data, rather than provision of genomic resources.

Stephen C Bishop

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Genetics of Trait Complexes: Disease resistance, , 107, 2014
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