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The Application of Genomic Technologies to Investigate the Inheritance of Economically Important Traits in Goats

DOI: 10.1155/2014/904281

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Abstract:

Goat genomics has evolved at a low pace because of a lack of molecular tools and sufficient investment. Whilst thousands and hundreds of quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified in cattle and sheep, respectively, about nine genome scans have been performed in goats dealing with traits as conformation, growth, fiber quality, resistance to nematodes, and milk yield and composition. In contrast, a great effort has been devoted to the characterization of candidate genes and their association with milk, meat, and reproduction phenotypes. In this regard, causal mutations have been identified in the -casein gene that has a strong effect on milk composition and the PIS locus that is linked to intersexuality and polledness. In recent times, the development of massive parallel sequencing technologies has allowed to build a reference genome for goats as well as to monitor the expression of mRNAs and microRNAs in a broad array of tissues and experimental conditions. Besides, the recent design of a 52K SNP chip is expected to have a broad impact in the analysis of the genetic architecture of traits of economic interest as well as in the study of the population structure of goats at a worldwide scale. 1. Introduction The main purpose of this review is to provide a general perspective of the advances made in the field of goat genomics in the last three decades. Goats are a species with a lower economic value than other domesticates, as cattle and pigs. They are mainly raised in Asian (~500 million heads) and African (~290 million heads) countries, whilst their relevance in Europe (~21 million heads) and North America (~3 million heads) is relatively modest [1]. These circumstances may explain why the genetic study of goats has experienced, in general, a substantial lag behind those performed in bovines and even sheep, a closely related species. Whilst the genomic analysis of quantitative traits has undergone substantial advances in the two species mentioned before, leading in quite a few successful cases to the identification of causal mutations, a small number of studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) in goats. Fortunately, there are compelling signs that this situation is about to change, mainly because of the development of high throughput genotyping and sequencing tools that are allowing to generate huge amounts of data with a moderate investment of time and money. In the following pages, an outline of the major findings in the genetic analysis of quantitative and Mendelian traits of economic interest will be provided. Next, the impact of

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