Everything you need to know about genetic diversity in one course

Published on
October 30, 2018

An enthusiastic group of 28 participants from Europe, Africa and America followed the Interactive post-graduate course on characterization, management and exploitation of genomic diversity in animals, held from 15-19 October 2018 at Wageningen University & Research.

The course was organised by the EU Horizon2020 project IMAGE, which aims to enhance the use of genetic collections and upgrading animal gene bank management using a multidisciplinary approach. A team of international lecturers, mostly involved in the IMAGE project, put together a challenging program. All relevant topics, needed to understand and make best use of genetic diversity, were covered in the course.

Genetic diversity topics

Gabor Meszaros (BOKU, Austria) kicked off by teaching about measures of genetic diversity. The second day Steffen Weigend (FLI, Germany) took over explaining aspects of the analysis of across population genetic diversity and introgression of specific genetic regions into another breed. On Wednesday Mirte Bosse and Martien Groenen (Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands) jumped into linking phenotype, genotype and selection history, using GWAS, selective sweeps, and functional genomics. Thursday Michèle Tixier-Boichard (INRA, France) taught the participants more on building gene bank collections. Jack Windig (WUR, the Netherlands) finished the course with optimal contribution selection and management of small populations with nice exercises on dog populations.

Excellent group work

During the week the participants worked in groups applying the material learned to actual datasets. Although time was limited, all groups worked very hard and with great enthusiasm to present some nice results on population structure, measures of hetero- and homozygosity, effective population size and more on Friday afternoon.

Wednesday evening we had a discussion session with invited stakeholders about several ethical questions related to the objectives of animal gene banks led by Sipke Joost Hiemstra (CGN, the Netherlands) and Michèle Tixier-Boichard (INRA, France). The participants divided in different stakeholder-groups representing citizens, the breeding industry, and rare breed societies to discuss topics such as criteria to choose breeds for conservation, who should pay for gene banks, and which technologies are acceptable. Read more about the discussion evening.

We look back at a great week with a full but instructive program and a motivated group of participants!