March 12, 2019

Breeding and Genetics Symposium *Recap*

2019 Midwestern Section Breeding and Genetics Symposium Recap

By: Samantha Tabert

The first day of the 2019 ADSA-ASAS Midwest Section meeting was kicked off by the Breeding and Genetics Symposium: Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes (FAANG). Dr. Christopher Tuggle from Iowa State University was the first to speak on the subject. Dr. Tuggle gave us an introduction to the FAANG consortium and information on how to get involved in the efforts. Founded in 2014, the FAANG consortium was introduced with the intent to address the lack of knowledge on farm animal genomic annotation. He stressed that by collecting this data, understanding of the genotypic to phenotypic link will be enhanced while helping us understand functional annotation.

Dr. Brenda M. Murdoch continued the conversation into what the FAANG consortium is currently doing in the Ovine industry.  Dr. Murdoch started off by establishing that understanding biological variation is a key goal. With good visuals and funny jokes along the way, Dr. Murdoch showed us that even with the same genetics, the environment does play a role in the source of variation.  Among many other things, they have been identifying active promoters and transcription start sites through Cap Analysis of Gene Expression (CAGE) as well as examining histone modifications through Chromatin Immuno-precipitation (ChIP). Dr. Murdoch emphasized that because of the FAANG consortium, this project is possible and will provide a greater understanding of the sheep genome and the mechanisms for the genome to functional phenotype variation within sheep.

Next up, Dr. Sylvain Foissac reviewed how improving the genome-to-phenome functional annotation gap will open the horizons to predictive biology. He discussed how the FR-AgENCODE project produced omics data, which has helped improve the reference annotation of cattle, pig, goat, and chicken genomes. He showed that biology, environment, and noise all feed into phenotype. Dr. Foissac’s introduction of omics jump started Dr. Gota Morota’s presentation on multi-omic data integration in quantitative genetics. This is a suggested solution for integrating multi-omic data, such as copy-number variation and methylation, into downstream analyses aimed at enhancing our biological insights.

Dr. Jessica Petersen wrapped up our morning session by discussing the equine genome and the global efforts being done by the equine FAANG community. They have over 80 tissue samples saved in a biobank and currently have all sequencing completed (whole genome sequencing of each horse, mRNA, smRNA, and analysis from eight prioritized tissues). Dr. Petersen also talked about their “Adopt-a-tissue” initiative, which allowed them to sequence 30 more tissues than they otherwise would have been able to without help from members of the community.

All of the above speakers mentioned the importance the FAANG consortium has had in making their research possible. It really is a global community effort. You can learn more about the projects, check out their reviews, database, and sign up for free to stay up to date at faang.org.