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Resilience to climate stressors

The future climate is expected to be more variable, with greater frequencies and intensities of very hot periods, drought, and floods. The current rapid rate of climate change is likely to impose overwhelming pressures on the existing adaptation capacity of ruminant livestock raised outdoors. Our long-term goal is to provide necessary knowledge and tools to improve resilience of sheep to environmental stressors. The central hypothesis is that adaptation to environmental pressures is largely based on genetics and considerable variation exists among and within current sheep populations.

Whole-genome genotyping using the 60K SNP chip will allow us to identify genomic loci with adaptive significance through landscape genomic analysis; identify QTL controlling adaptation to environmental stressors through an association mapping analysis by combining the 60K SNP ecotypes and resilience phenotypes; estimate genetic breeding value for resilience traits and evaluate accuracy of values using a four-fold cross-validation approach; and develop a targeted SNP panel.

This project will facilitate development and implementation of effective breeding programs using selection as well as crossbreeding to bring about continuous and cumulative improvement of adaptive capacity for enhanced genetic resilience to climatic stressors.

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