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Concept: Domestic pig


Domestication of wild boar (Sus scrofa) and subsequent selection have resulted in dramatic phenotypic changes in domestic pigs for a number of traits, including behavior, body composition, reproduction, and coat color. Here we have used whole-genome resequencing to reveal some of the loci that underlie phenotypic evolution in European domestic pigs. Selective sweep analyses revealed strong signatures of selection at three loci harboring quantitative trait loci that explain a considerable part of one of the most characteristic morphological changes in the domestic pig-the elongation of the back and an increased number of vertebrae. The three loci were associated with the NR6A1, PLAG1, and LCORL genes. The latter two have repeatedly been associated with loci controlling stature in other domestic animals and in humans. Most European domestic pigs are homozygous for the same haplotype at these three loci. We found an excess of derived nonsynonymous substitutions in domestic pigs, most likely reflecting both positive selection and relaxed purifying selection after domestication. Our analysis of structural variation revealed four duplications at the KIT locus that were exclusively present in white or white-spotted pigs, carrying the Dominant white, Patch, or Belt alleles. This discovery illustrates how structural changes have contributed to rapid phenotypic evolution in domestic animals and how alleles in domestic animals may evolve by the accumulation of multiple causative mutations as a response to strong directional selection.

Concepts: Genetics, Natural selection, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Selection, Pork


We describe a fundamentally novel feat of animal genetic engineering: the precise and efficient substitution of an agronomic haplotype into a domesticated species. Zinc finger nuclease in-embryo editing of the RELA locus generated live born domestic pigs with the warthog RELA orthologue, associated with resilience to African Swine Fever. The ability to efficiently achieve interspecies allele introgression in one generation opens unprecedented opportunities for agriculture and basic research.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Allele, Mammal, Pig, Domestic pig, Suidae


China is one of the most diverse countries, which have developed 88 indigenous pig breeds. Several studies showed that pigs were independently domesticated in multiple regions of the world. The purpose of this study was to investigate the origin and evolution of Chinese pigs using complete mitochondrial genomic sequences (mtDNA) from Asian and European domestic pigs and wild boars. Thirty primer pairs were designed to determine the mtDNA sequences of Xiang pig, Large White, Lantang, Jinhua and Pietrain. The phylogenetic status of Chinese native pigs was investigated by comparing the mtDNA sequences of complete coding regions and D-loop regions respectively amongst Asian breeds, European breeds and wild boars. The analyzed results by two cluster methods contributed to the same conclusion that all pigs were classified into two major groups, European clade and Asian clade. It revealed that Chinese pigs were only recently diverged from each other and distinctly different from European pigs. Berkshire was clustered with Asian pigs and Chinese pigs were involved in the development of Berkshire breeding. The Malaysian wild boar had distant genetic relationship with European and Asian pigs. Jinhua and Lanyu pigs had more nucleotide diversity with Chinese pigs although they all belonged to the Asian major clade. Chinese domestic pigs were clustered with wild boars in Yangtze River region and South China.

Concepts: DNA, China, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork, Razorback


For 10,000 years pigs and humans have shared a close and complex relationship. From domestication to modern breeding practices, humans have shaped the genomes of domestic pigs. Here we present the assembly and analysis of the genome sequence of a female domestic Duroc pig (Sus scrofa) and a comparison with the genomes of wild and domestic pigs from Europe and Asia. Wild pigs emerged in South East Asia and subsequently spread across Eurasia. Our results reveal a deep phylogenetic split between European and Asian wild boars ∼1 million years ago, and a selective sweep analysis indicates selection on genes involved in RNA processing and regulation. Genes associated with immune response and olfaction exhibit fast evolution. Pigs have the largest repertoire of functional olfactory receptor genes, reflecting the importance of smell in this scavenging animal. The pig genome sequence provides an important resource for further improvements of this important livestock species, and our identification of many putative disease-causing variants extends the potential of the pig as a biomedical model.

Concepts: Gene, Organism, RNA, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork


Climate change is known to affect ecosystems globally, but our knowledge of its impact on large and widespread mammals, and possibly population-specific responses is still sparse. We investigated large-scale and long-term effects of climate change on local population dynamics using the wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) as a model species. Our results show that population increases across Europe are strongly associated with increasingly mild winters, yet with region-specific threshold temperatures for the onset of exponential growth. Additionally, we found that abundant availability of critical food resources, e.g. beech nuts, can outweigh the negative effects of cold winters on population growth of wild boar. Availability of beech nuts is highly variable and highest in years of beech mast which increased in frequency since 1980, according to our data. We conclude that climate change drives population growth of wild boar directly by relaxing the negative effect of cold winters on survival and reproduction, and indirectly by increasing food availability. However, region-specific responses need to be considered in order to fully understand a species' demographic response to climate change.

Concepts: Demography, Great Britain, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork, Beech


Native species that forage in farmland may increase their local abundances thereby affecting adjacent ecosystems within their landscape. We used two decades of ecological data from a protected primary rainforest in Malaysia to illutrate how subsidies from neighboring oil palm plantations triggered powerful secondary ‘cascading’ effects on natural habitats located >1.3 km away. We found (i) oil palm fruit drove 100-fold increases in crop-raiding native wild boar (Sus scrofa), (ii) wild boar used thousands of understory plants to construct birthing nests in the pristine forest interior, and (iii) nest building caused a 62% decline in forest tree sapling density over the 24-year study period. The long-term, landscape-scale indirect effects from agriculture suggest its full ecological footprint may be larger in extent than is currently recognized. Cross-boundary subsidy cascades may be widespread in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems and present significant conservation challenges.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Forest, Tree, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Rainforest, Tropical rainforest, Oil palm


Domesticated porcine species are commonly used in studies of wound healing, owing to similarities between porcine skin and human skin. Such studies often involve wound dressings, and keeping these dressings intact on the animal can be a challenge. The authors describe a novel and simple technique for constructing a fitted neoprene garment for pigs that covers dressings and maintains their integrity during experiments.

Concepts: Scar, Wound healing, Mammal, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Bearded Pig


Boar taint is due to androstenone and skatole (3-methyl-indole) accumulation in fat tissues. During a study to investigate the effect of immunocastration on fattening pigs, an outbreak of acute dysentery occurred caused by Lawsonia intracellularis and Brachyspira hyodysenteriae and resulted in cachexia and high mortality. Low androstenone levels in the immunocastrates (0.25±0.04μg/g liquid fat) suggested that the immunocastration had been effective, but unusually high skatole concentrations in fat tissues were found not only in entire males, but also in surgical castrates and immunocastrates (0.22±0.15, 0.14±0.08 and 0.18±0.14μg/g liquid fat, respectively). The findings suggest that boar taint can arise in cases of intestinal infections, even in castrated pigs.

Concepts: Male, Surgery, Effectiveness, Suggestion, Pig, Domestic pig, Castration


Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are widespread across many landscapes throughout the world and are considered to be an invasive pest to agriculture and the environment, or conversely a native or desired game species and resource for hunting. Wild pig population monitoring is often required for a variety of management or research objectives, and many methods and analyses for monitoring abundance are available. Here, we describe monitoring methods that have proven or potential applications to wild pig management. We describe the advantages and disadvantages of methods so that potential users can efficiently consider and identify the option(s) best suited to their combination of objectives, circumstances, and resources. This paper offers guidance to wildlife managers, researchers, and stakeholders considering population monitoring of wild pigs and will help ensure that they can fulfill their monitoring objectives while optimizing their use of resources.

Concepts: Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork, Pigs, Razorback


The paradigm of chronobiology is based almost wholly upon the daily biological clock, or circadian rhythm, which has been the focus of intense molecular, cellular, pharmacological, and behavioral, research. However, the circadian rhythm does not explain biological timings related to fundamental aspects of life history such as rates of tissue/organ/body size development and control of the timing of life stages such as gestation length, age at maturity, and lifespan. This suggests that another biological timing mechanism is at work. Here we focus on a “many days” (multidien) chronobiological period first observed as enigmatic recurring growth lines in developing mammalian tooth enamel that is strongly associate with all adult tissue, organ, and body masses as well as life history attributes such as gestation length, age at maturity, weaning, and lifespan, particularly among the well studied primates. Yet, knowledge of the biological factors regulating the patterning of mammalian life, such as the development of body size and life history structure, does not exist. To identify underlying molecular mechanisms we performed metabolome and genome analyses from blood plasma in domestic pigs. We show that blood plasma metabolites and small non-coding RNA (sncRNA) drawn from 33 domestic pigs over a two-week period strongly oscillate on a 5-day multidien rhythm, as does the pig enamel rhythm. Metabolomics and genomics pathway analyses actually reveal two 5-day rhythms, one related to growth in which biological functions include cell proliferation, apoptosis, and transcription regulation/protein synthesis, and another 5-day rhythm related to degradative pathways that follows three days later. Our results provide experimental confirmation of a 5-day multidien rhythm in the domestic pig linking the periodic growth of enamel with oscillations of the metabolome and genome. This association reveals a new class of chronobiological rhythm and a snapshot of the biological bases that regulate mammalian growth, body size, and life history.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Blood, Chronobiology, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae