Today, selective breeding is largely based on quantitative genetic methods. These effectively regard the animal as a black box with many genes contributing to the expression of all traits under selection. Genomics is now opening this black box by elucidating the effect of single genes on the phenotypic expression of traits. The availability of the whole genome assembly of the chicken, and soon of the pig, has sparked the discovery of many genes with a large effect on production and quality traits. The use of SNPs as molecular markers in high throughput genotyping systems allows the large scale use of marker assisted breeding technologies. As breeding deals with identifying and exploiting the genetic basis of phenotypes, there is no doubt whatsoever that the use in breeding of knowledge of molecular genetics, i.e. molecular breeding, will totally change our current practices of selective breeding in pigs and poultry. In addition, the opportunity to direct the flow of animals and products with particular genetic properties is likely to also affect the role of the breeding industry in animal production.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Hendrix-Genetics.