hybrid nature of pig genomes


The hybrid nature of pig genomes. Unraveling the mosaic haplotype structure in wild and commercial Sus scrofa populations

Promovendus dr. M (Mirte) Bosse
Promotor prof.dr. MAM (Martien) Groenen
Copromotor dr.ir. HJWC (Hendrik-Jan) Megens
O (Ole) Madsen
Organisatie Wageningen University, Animal Breeding and Genetics

vr 22 mei 2015 16:00 tot 17:30

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen


A single genome contains information on the demographic history of a population, from ancient bottlenecks till recent inbreeding, hybridization and selection. Through genome research I show that, worldwide, Asian pigs and wild boars contain most genetic diversity, probably because few European wild boars survived the last glaciation. The commercial pig as we know it today has a long history since its original domestication from wild boar some 10.000 years ago. This domestication occurred independently in Europe and Asia, which resulted in European and Asian pig breeds with very different characteristics and appearances. Roughly 200 years ago, English breeders imported Chinese pigs and crossed them with their own (European) pigs. European pigs still contain DNA that comes from Asia. The genetic diversity within European commercial pigs is, therefore, greater than within the existing populations of wild boar. I also demonstrate that a number of important characteristics of European pigs, like increased fertility and fatness, comes from gene variants with an Asian origin. Finally, I analysed how genomic data can be used best to counteract inbreeding in critically endangered pig species.


  1. We are all inbred hybrids (this thesis)
  2. Introgression mapping should be used more often to screen for loci under selection (this thesis)
  3. Flexibility in thoughts and lifestyle are key to modern careers in science
  4. The most effective strategy in species conservation is to remove the human population
  5. A scientific CV that includes some months parental leave should be rated higher than a similar CV without it
  6. Acknowledging differences between people is the best way to reach equality