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AlphaGenes visited the new Large Animal Hospital and Hospital for Small Animals guided by Miguel Gozalo-Marcilla, Senior Lecturer of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 

First, he guided us around the new Large Animal Hospital and visited the stables, where we were educated about the most common equine diseases and disorders. This was followed by observing surgery of a bull under general anaesthesia and then we “got hands on” with some equine-specific dental surgery tools. 

The tour was rounded off in the Hospital for Small Animals (dogs, cats and exotic animals).  Miguel showed us the operating rooms, the intensive care unit and the well-equipped medical imaging section. The medical imaging suite included capabilities for radiography, endoscopy, ultrasonography, computer tomography and MRI. 

The tour gave us all a new found(land) appreciation of the clinical work performed at the Vet School and insight into the connections between our areas of research.  

Title: Integrative breeding to meet global demand for food, fuel and fibre

During his Inaugural Lecture, which was held at the University of Edinburgh on the 27th May, John Hickey discussed the convergence of plant and animal breeding and showed how tools, methods, and technologies can be common to both fields and thus create the opportunity for synergy in research, training and implementation. He argued that by integrating these two fields, disruptive innovations will emerge which will more than double the rates of genetic gain of breeding programs globally thereby enabling agriculture to play its part in societal and economic development and ensuring the planet is protected.

A link to a video of the lecture is available here

Deleterious variants occur when errors in DNA replication that disrupt the function of a gene. Such errors are frequent enough that all organisms carry mildly deleterious variants. Geneticists describe this as a deleterious load, that cause organisms to be less healthy and fit than they could have been if these errors didn’t happen. Load is especially pertinent to livestock populations, because of their relatively small population sizes and inbreeding.

Historically, it has not been possible to observe deleterious variants directly, but as genome sequencing becomes cheaper and new bioinformatic methods are being developed, we can now sequence livestock and detect variants that are likely to be deleterious.

In this study, we used computer simulation to see how future breeding strategies involving selection or genome editing could be used to reduce deleterious load. We tested selection against deleterious load and genome editing strategy we call RAGE (Removal of Alleles by Genome Editing) in simulated livestock populations to see how it improved fitness. The simulations suggest that selecting on deleterious variants identified from genome sequencing may help improve fitness of livestock populations, and that genome editing to remove deleterious variants could improve them even more.

For these strategies to be effective, it is important that detection of deleterious variants is accurate, and genome editing of more than one variant per animal would need to become possible without damaging side-effects. Future research on how to measure deleterious load in large sequence datasets from livestock animals, and how to perform genome editing safely and effectively will be important.

Link: https://gsejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12711-019-0456-8

Team building

2019 March

Team building was organised in the extremely pleasant location at the Norton Hotel in Edinburgh. We made a reflection of all the exceptional achievements of the entire group. At the same time we made guidelines for the future of our group in the field of excellence and expertise.

AlphaGenes had Team building in a nice atmosphere of the Norton Hotel in Edinburgh. We made a reflection of all the exceptional achievements from the last year of the entire group. At the same time we made guidelines for the future of our group in the field of excellence and expertise.

This year

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