Perspectives of genomics for genetic conservation of livestock

Windig, J.J.; Engelsma, K.A.


Genomics provides new opportunities for conservation genetics. Conservation genetics in livestock is based on estimating diversity by pedigree relatedness and managing diversity by choosing those animals that maximize genetic diversity. Animals can be chosen as parents for the next generation, as donors of material to a gene bank, or as breeds for targeting conservation efforts. Genomics provides opportunities to estimate diversity for specific parts of the genome, such as neutral and adaptive diversity and genetic diversity underlying specific traits. This enables us to choose candidates for conservation based on specific genetic diversity (e.g. diversity of traits or adaptive diversity) or to monitor the loss of diversity without conservation. In wild animals direct genetic management, by choosing candidates for conservation as in livestock, is generally not practiced. With dense marker maps opportunities exist for monitoring relatedness and genetic diversity in wild populations, thus enabling a more active management of diversity.