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Journal: Journal of animal science and biotechnology


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


Pigs are an important resource in agriculture and serve as a model for human diseases. Due to their physiological and anatomical similarities with humans, pigs can recapitulate symptoms of human diseases, making them a useful model in biomedicine. However, in the past pig models have not been widely used partially because of the difficulty in genetic modification. The lack of true embryonic stem cells in pigs forced researchers to utilize genetic modification in somatic cells and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to generate genetically engineered (GE) pigs carrying site-specific modifications. Although possible, this approach is extremely inefficient and GE pigs born through this method often presented developmental defects associated with the cloning process. Advancement in the gene-editing systems such as Zinc-Finger Nucleases (ZFNs), Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and the Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated 9 (Cas9) system have dramatically increased the efficiency of producing GE pigs. These gene-editing systems, specifically engineered endonucleases, are based on inducing double-stranded breaks (DSBs) at a specific location, and then site-specific modifications can be introduced through one of the two DNA repair pathways: non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or homology direct repair (HDR). Random insertions or deletions (indels) can be introduced through NHEJ and specific nucleotide sequences can be introduced through HDR, if donor DNA is provided. Use of these engineered endonucleases provides a higher success in genetic modifications, multiallelic modification of the genome, and an opportunity to introduce site-specific modifications during embryogenesis, thus bypassing the need of SCNT in GE pig production. This review will provide a historical prospective of GE pig production and examples of how the gene-editing system, led by engineered endonucleases, have improved GE pig production. We will also present some of our current progress related to the optimal use of CRISPR/Cas9 system during embryogenesis.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Stem cell, Biotechnology, Embryonic stem cell, Cloning, Somatic cell nuclear transfer


The rise in global population has led to explorations of alternative sources of energy and food. Because corn and soybean are staple food crops for humans, their common use as the main source of dietary energy and protein for food-producing animals directly competes with their allocation for human consumption. Alternatively, de-fatted marine microalgal biomass generated from the potential biofuel production may be a viable replacement of corn and soybean meal due to their high levels of protein, relatively well-balanced amino acid profiles, and rich contents of minerals and vitamins, along with unique bioactive compounds. Although the full-fatted (intact) microalgae represent the main source of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids including docohexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the de-fatted microalgal biomass may still contain good amounts of these components for enriching DHA/EPA in eggs, meats, and milk. This review is written to highlight the necessity and potential of using the de-fatted microalgal biomass as a new generation of animal feed in helping address the global energy, food, and environmental issues. Nutritional feasibility and limitation of the biomass as the new feed ingredient for simple-stomached species are elaborated. Potential applications of the biomass for generating value-added animal products are also explored.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Essential fatty acid, Saturated fat, Maize, Biofuel, Eicosapentaenoic acid


In 2012, genetically engineered (GE) crops were grown by 17.3 million farmers on over 170 million hectares. Over 70% of harvested GE biomass is fed to food producing animals, making them the major consumers of GE crops for the past 15 plus years. Prior to commercialization, GE crops go through an extensive regulatory evaluation. Over one hundred regulatory submissions have shown compositional equivalence, and comparable levels of safety, between GE crops and their conventional counterparts. One component of regulatory compliance is whole GE food/feed animal feeding studies. Both regulatory studies and independent peer-reviewed studies have shown that GE crops can be safely used in animal feed, and rDNA fragments have never been detected in products (e.g. milk, meat, eggs) derived from animals that consumed GE feed. Despite the fact that the scientific weight of evidence from these hundreds of studies have not revealed unique risks associated with GE feed, some groups are calling for more animal feeding studies, including long-term rodent studies and studies in target livestock species for the approval of GE crops. It is an opportune time to review the results of such studies as have been done to date to evaluate the value of the additional information obtained. Requiring long-term and target animal feeding studies would sharply increase regulatory compliance costs and prolong the regulatory process associated with the commercialization of GE crops. Such costs may impede the development of feed crops with enhanced nutritional characteristics and durability, particularly in the local varieties in small and poor developing countries. More generally it is time for regulatory evaluations to more explicitly consider both the reasonable and unique risks and benefits associated with the use of both GE plants and animals in agricultural systems, and weigh them against those associated with existing systems, and those of regulatory inaction. This would represent a shift away from a GE evaluation process that currently focuses only on risk assessment and identifying ever diminishing marginal hazards, to a regulatory approach that more objectively evaluates and communicates the likely impact of approving a new GE plant or animal on agricultural production systems.

Concepts: Agriculture, Evaluation, Risk, Risk management, Harvest, Meat, Livestock, Genetically modified organism


Progress of genome wide association study in domestic animals" published in Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 2012 (3:26), is regretfully retracted by the authors due to substantial textual overlap with previously published sources. We apologize to all affected parties for the inconvenience.

Concepts: Organism, Human Genome Project, Insect, Animal, International Phonetic Alphabet, Drosophila melanogaster, Retraction


Early colonization of intestinal microbiota during the neonatal stage plays an important role on the development of intestinal immune system and nutrients absorption of the host. Compared to the normal birth weight (NBW) piglets, intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) piglets have a different intestinal microbiota during their early life, which is related to maternal imprinting on intestinal microbial succession during gestation, at birth and via suckling. Imbalanced allocation of limited nutrients among fetuses during gestation could be one of the main causes for impaired intestinal development and microbiota colonization in neonatal IUGR piglets. In this review, we summarized the potential impact of maternal imprinting on the colonization of the intestinal microbiota in IUGR piglets, including maternal undernutrition, imbalanced allocation of nutrients among fetuses, as well as vertical microbial transmission from mother to offspring during gestation and lactation. At the same time, we give information about the current maternal nutritional strategies (mainly breastfeeding, probiotics and prebiotics) to help colonization of the advantageous intestinal microbiota for IUGR piglets.


Methanogenic archaea reside primarily in the rumen and the lower segments of the intestines of ruminants, where they utilize the reducing equivalents derived from rumen fermentation to reduce carbon dioxide, formic acid, or methylamines to methane (CH4). Research on methanogens in the rumen has attracted great interest in the last decade because CH4 emission from ruminants contributes to global greenhouse gas emission and represents a loss of feed energy. Some DNA-based phylogenetic studies have depicted a diverse and dynamic community of methanogens in the rumen. In the past decade, researchers have focused on elucidating the underpinning that determines and affects the diversity, composition, structure, and dynamics of methanogen community of the rumen. Concurrently, many researchers have attempted to develop and evaluate interventions to mitigate enteric CH4 emission. Although much work has been done using plant secondary metabolites, other approaches such as using nitrate and 3-nitrooxy propanol have also yielded promising results. Most of these antimethanogenic compounds or substances often show inconsistent results among studies and also lead to adverse effects on feed intake and digestion and other aspects of rumen fermentation when fed at doses high enough to achieve effective mitigation. This review provides a brief overview of the rumen methanogens and then an appraisal of most of the antimethanogenic compounds and substances that have been evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. Knowledge gaps and future research needs are also discussed with a focus on methanogens and methane mitigation.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Bacteria, Anaerobic digestion, Natural gas, Methane, Greenhouse gas, Global warming potential, Methanogen


Methane emissions from ruminant livestock contribute significantly to the large environmental footprint of agriculture. The rumen is the principal source of methane, and certain features of the microbiome are associated with low/high methane phenotypes. Despite their primary role in methanogenesis, the abundance of archaea has only a weak correlation with methane emissions from individual animals. The composition of the archaeal community appears to have a stronger effect, with animals harbouring the Methanobrevibacter gottschalkii clade tending to be associated with greater methane emissions. Ciliate protozoa produce abundant H2, the main substrate for methanogenesis in the rumen, and their removal (defaunation) results in an average 11% lower methane emissions in vivo, but the results are not consistent. Different protozoal genera seem to result in greater methane emissions, though community types (A, AB, B and O) did not differ. Within the bacteria, three different ‘ruminotypes’ have been identified, two of which predispose animals to have lower methane emissions. The two low-methane ruminotypes are generally characterized by less abundant H2-producing bacteria. A lower abundance of Proteobacteria and differences in certain Bacteroidetes and anaerobic fungi seem to be associated with high methane emissions. Rumen anaerobic fungi produce abundant H2 and formate, and their abundance generally corresponds to the level of methane emissions. Thus, microbiome analysis is consistent with known pathways for H2 production and methanogenesis, but not yet in a predictive manner. The production and utilisation of formate by the ruminal microbiota is poorly understood and may be a source of variability between animals.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Eukaryote, Anaerobic digestion, Methane, Protist, Kingdom


To investigate the effects of dietary crude protein (CP) restriction on muscle fiber characteristics and key regulators related to protein deposition in skeletal muscle, a total of 18 growing-finishing pigs (62.30 ± 0.88 kg) were allotted to 3 groups and fed with the recommended adequate protein (AP, 16 % CP) diet, moderately restricted protein (MP, 13 % CP) diet and low protein (LP, 10 % CP) diet, respectively. The skeletal muscle of different locations in pigs, including longissimus dorsi muscle (LDM), psoas major muscle (PMM) and biceps femoris muscle (BFM) were collected and analyzed.

Concepts: Nutrition, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Myosin, Longissimus, Lumbar plexus, Psoas major muscle, Psoas minor muscle


Recent technological advances mean that samples from animal experiments may be analysed more cheaply, more easily and with a much greater return of data than previously. Research groups are frequently faced with a choice of continuing to use established technology in which they may have made a significant investment of time and resources, and have significant amounts of reference data, or switching to new technology where reference data may be limited. Apart from cost, the choice needs to be based on a comparison between the increase in data available from future experiments by switching and the value of comparison with reference data from historical experiments analysed with earlier technology. One approach to this problem is to ensure that sufficient quantity and variety of samples are taken from each experiment and appropriately stored to allow re-establishment of a sufficiently large reference set and to avoid the need to repeat animal experiments. The establishment of ‘biobanks’ of experimental material will require funding for infrastructure, consistent storage of metadata and, importantly, horizon-scanning to ensure that samples are taken appropriately for techniques which will become accessible in future. Such biobanks are a recognised resource in human medicine, where the value of samples increases as more analysis is carried out and added to the metadata.