Genomic Tools for Effective Conservation of Livestock Breed Diversity

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Human concern about the status of genetic diversity in livestock breeds and their conservation has increased, as intense selection and reduced population sizes in many breeds has caused losses on the global livestock genetic biodiversity. Traditionally, pedigree data provided by the breeders were used to estimate genetic diversity parameters, but over the past decades, technology has made possible the development of genomic markers. The result has been new opportunities to estimate genetic diversity in more detail, and to improve selection as well as prioritizing animals for conservation of genetic resources. The aim of the review is to summarize the evolution of livestock genomic markers and to explore the potential of the newest high-throughput technologies for estimation and conservation of livestock genetic diversity. More accurate diversity parameters are observed when genomic information is used for selection decisions instead of the traditional estimates using pedigree data. It is also possible to estimate additional parameters such as linkage disequilibrium to calculate effective population size or to minimize the genetic relatedness among the selected individuals based on runs of homozygosity. For long-term perspectives, new methods on genome editing are considered as new perspectives to reach a genetic diversity balance.
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