Animal Genetic Resources Portal
पशु आनुवंशिक संसाधन पोर्टल

Research in the field of animal genetic resources

Research opportunities cover a wide range of thematic areas in Animal genetic Resources. The biggest gap in knowledge is animal breeding for local populations in harsh environments. There is also a lack of research in functional genetics and genomics of adaptation and disease resistance traits. Breed characterization including molecular characterization has been popular research subject in AnGR. Research for conservation has also been taken up although some fundamental questions galore on genetic diversity and risk of its loss. We require to understand the socio-economic, infrastructural, technical and formal constraints that limit the operation of sustainable conservation programs in underdeveloped countries. Information systems on animal genetic resources need input from research to achieve a degree of completeness. Economic analysis and issues related to gene flow and benefit sharing should be addressed by putting more research efforts.

Major Research Areas on AnGR are listed as:


DAD-IS is the FAO Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) .
Data capture, including first-time information and regular updates, is relatively good in a number of developed countries but is rather deficient in most developing countries, which are comparatively  rich in genetic diversity. Having the information in these countries is crucial if a complete picture of the status of farm animal biodiversity is to be obtained. FAO maintains a global database on AnGR, but the information is incomplete. Many other countries maintain regional databases, but the network among the databases is lacking.

Animal Breeding

Animal breeding for the major international breeds has led to genetic gains for many important production traits. Research has been more on how to achieve genetic gains than on selection objectives. Now it is recognized that more importance has to be given to  functional traits such as anatomy of feet, legs and udders (in dairy cattle), metabolic stress, fertility, longevity, health, disease resistance, behavior and others.


Conservation of animal genetic resources is a controversial issues, basically because of decisions on what breeds to conserve, how to do it and who will pay for it. The rationale behind conservation of farm animal diversity is that humankind may need to keep this specific genetic biodiversity to face future challenges such as changes in demand for livestock products, spread of new diseases, reducing environmental impact and climate change. This biodiversity would be the source pool for genes that confer disease resistance, specific product qualities like fatty acid composition or milk composition, resistance to draught and high temperatures, and production traits to be combined in newly formed breeds / populations. There are also less production-oriented arguments in favor of conservation, such as cultural values, traditional livestock keepers and  preservation of rural landscapes.

Conservation of animal genetic resources, in economic terms, would be the maintenance of use and non-use value to humans. 

Multidisciplinary Research Projects

Multidisciplinary nature of a relatively novel approach to the management of farm animal genetic resources demonstrate the interaction and positive synergy among different areas of research and different types of research teams dealing with the subject in several institutions.

Pig Biodiversity I (Delgado et al., 2003) involved technical aspects of sampling, AFLP and micro-satellite marker genotyping, statistical analysis of genetic profiles and calculation of genetic distance, dissemination of data and legal aspects of the intellectual property of the genetic material and its associated information. Pig Biodiversity II (European Commission, 2008) extended the research to 50 Chinese pig breeds, including sampling and storage of DNA to study genetic diversity by micro-satellite markers, characterizing type I loci and QTL regions, mtDNA and Y-chromosomal DNA, and using DNA marker data to identify genes involved in functional differences among breeds.

The project ECONOGENE  (European Commission, 2008) combines molecular analysis of biodiversity, socio-economics and geostatistics to address the conservation of sheep and goat genetic resources, and rural development in marginal agrosystems in Europe.

Research priorities reported by various countries

Information systemsUpgrading of existing information systems on AnGR
Data collection on population size and structure
Geographical Information System (GIS) on animal genetic resources
CharacterizationAdaptation and performance traits of indigenous breeds
Survey and Analysis Methods for phenotypic characterization
Environment descriptors to evaluate Genotype, Environment interactions
Genetic diversityDefinition and determination of risk status
Monitoring population status
Measures to halt the declining genetic diversity
Assessments of genetic diversity using molecular genetic markers
Development and supply of international reference samples
Integration of phenotypic and molecular data
Identification of gene variants for important traits
Methods to assess the extent of genetic dilution of a breed
Indicators for farm animal genetic diversity
Functional geneticsUnderstanding the genetic basis of adaptive traits
Genetic basis of disease resistance and host– pathogen interactions
Genetic basis of adaptation to difficult environments and efficiency
New tools for conventional and transformative genetic improvement
Animal breedingWhether to implement genetic improvement programs
Genetic impact assessment
Simulation to predict the consequences of introduction of exotic breeds
Breeding strategies in low and medium input environments
Breeding strategies with little or no organizational infrastructure
Stable crossbreeding systems with a role for native breeds
Selection for disease resistance if specific genes have been identified
Implement DNA-based selection without compromising production
Measurement of stress/psychological status (aggression, discomfort)
Selection methods for temperament and less foot and leg problems
Selection for increased efficiency of feed utilization
Genetic variance in nutrient requirements
Genetic variance in digestion of specific amino acids and phosphorus
ConservationIn-situ in vivo conservation to maximize livestock keepers' livelihoods
Sustainable in situ in vivo conservation with development objectivest
Self-sustaining ex situ in vivo conservation in developing countries
Ex situ in vitro cryoconservation of gametes and embryos
Sampling and storage of germplasm as backup for breeding programs
Somatic cloning to improve safety and cost-effectiveness
Blueprints for national and multinational genebanks
Legal and sanitary frameworks for storage and access
Criteria for optimization of resource allocation in conservation
Early warning/response mechanisms with defined triggers and actions
Economic analysisAnalytical methods to define global benefits of conservation
Costing of conservation alternatives in diverse situations
Field-test promising valuation methods across production systems
Traits used by farmers for local breeds under some production systems
Market analysis for livestock breeds and their products
Cost–benefit analysis of breeding programs
 Expectation analyses of effects on livelihoods of using alternative breeds
Access and benefit sharingRelationship between access and trade in livestock germplasm
Need for and impacts of frameworks for access and benefit sharing
Assessment of public and community use of biodiversity
Significance of national regulations/animal disease control protocols
Current and future benefits from global flows of livestock germplasm
Assessment of scenarios that change flows and the share of benefits

Source: Ricardo A. Cardellinoa, Jean Boyazoglub (2009) Research opportunities in the field of animal genetic resources. Livestock Science 120 (3) 166-173.


List of Animal Science Institutes with links to their websites:

1. Indian Council of Agricultural Research
2. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation (FAO), Rome
3. International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
4. European Federation of Animal Science(EAAP)
5. European Regional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources (ERFP)
6. National Bureaue of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal
7. Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar
8. Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes, Hisar
9. Central Institute for Research on Goats, Mathura
10. Central Sheep & Wool Research Institute, Avikanagar
11. Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izzatnagar
12. National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, IASRI Campus, New Delhi
13. National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal
14. National Institute of Animal Nutrition & Physiology, Bangalore
15. NRC for Equines, Hisar, Haryana
16. NRC on Camel, Bikaner, Rajasthan
17. NRC on Mithun, ICAR Research Complex, Nagaland
18. NRC on Yak, Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh
19. Project directorate on Cattle, Modipuram, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
20. Project Directorate on Poultry, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
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