The sustainability of the breeding programs in livestock and honey bees: Challenges and perspectives.

Senast ändrad: 16 december 2022

Sreten Andonov.

Livestock production is a close interaction of the two main aspects: the environment and the genetic potential of animals. Both of them are in farmers' focus to achieve the overall goal of animal keeping. Nowadays the environment is under continuous change, challenging the breeding programs to ensure the future sustainability of the livestock production. In the breeding programs, the performance of animal traits has been recorded following commonly accepted methods, and lately by wide sensors and image captures. All this information, in combination with genealogical and genomic data is evaluated by mathematical models. Models are under constant testing, aiming to improve accuracy, and hence optimize the increase of the genetic response in the breeding programs.

My research is focused on the improvement of modeling in breeding programs, analyzing genetic trends and patterns in populations under selection, and exploring genomic information. A special focus is given to developing methods to assess large sets of information generated by innovative autonomic sensors' technology in rearing animals producing novel traits. Methods are developed for better accounting for environmental factors, explanation of the specific population structure, and genotypes. The overall aim is to contribute to new knowledge on genetic parameters estimation in livestock and honey bees. Studying honey bees and implementing breeding programs is of particular interest to me, due to their specific social life, genetic composition, and reproduction. The results contribute to understand the genetic background in novel traits’ composition and their potential use in breeding programs, and more successful implementation of breeding programs.

From my perspective as a researcher in quantitative genetics, with experience in applied animal breeding in various livestock species and honey bees I am stressing out the following:

  • Livestock systems in fore coming years will be rigidly challenged for long-range viability. Hence, the adaptations of classical breeding programs will incorporate a wide series of phenotypic and genotypic information. The new tools for data use and evaluations are constantly developing, but a lot of research work is required for achieving cost-effective genetic progress, securing genetic diversity, and ensuring future sustainability.
  • The scientifically sound commitment can benefit from multi-disciplinary approaches by applying quantitative and qualitative methods, but still, the lag between research and practical application needs to be reduced. Close interaction with various stakeholders will be crucial for identifying problems, validating the achieved research results, and also an adaptation of the research use.
  • Part of my intentions for future research: i) sustainability of the breeding programs by the implementation of optimal contribution selection; ii) a better understanding of genome architecture in honey bees and implementation of genomics in the breeding programs; iii) introducing novel traits and aspects of continuous genomic selection in light of increased homozygosity.
  • The achievements of my research have been contributing to common knowledge and understanding in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger (SDG 2), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), climate action (SDG 13), and life on land (SDG 15).