The 3SR project (Sustainable Solutions for Small Ruminants) brings together a strong and unique international consortium of partners that will mine genomic information of sheep and goats to deliver a step-change in our understanding of the genetic basis of traits underlying sustainable production and health.
To do this we will build on existing research resources in the major sheep and goat producing member states to discover and verify (in commercial populations) selectable genetic markers (and causative mutations where possible) for traits critical to sustainable farming, particularly in marginal areas.
The targeted sustainability traits are mastitis susceptibility, nematode resistance and ovulation rate. These are traits that would markedly benefit from genetic markers, and traits for which we have evidence that polymorphisms exist with large effects on trait variation.
We will apply the latest high throughput genomics technologies, comparative and functional genomics, combined with targeted genome sequencing and extensive in silico analyses to dissect important genetic components controlling these traits. Concurrently, we will deliver significant improvements in available genomic information and technologies for these species, thus having a lasting impact on European research capacity.
Our work on genome resources will be undertaken in close collaboration with the International Sheep Genome Consortium (ISGC) and will make use of complementary resources provided by major research projects in Europe, Australasia, USA, Argentina and China.
3SR will provide selectable genetic markers that can be affordably applied by sheep and goat breeders to make important contributions to improving animal health, welfare, sustainability and the long-term competitiveness of small ruminant production in the EU. In addition 3SR will generate a collaborative infrastructure that will enable these ‘orphan species’ to keep pace with the rapid developments in livestock genomics.