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Genetics of serum and muscle lipids in pigs



Pork meat is one of the most important sources of animal protein in the human diet. Its nutritional properties are partly determined by intramuscular fat content and composition, with existing general consensus about the detrimental effects of cholesterol and saturated fat on cardiovascular health in humans. Because of their physiological resemblance, pigs can be also used as a valuable animal model to study the genetics of human diseases such as atherosclerosis, obesity and dyslipidaemias. Heritability estimates and QTL maps of porcine muscle and serum lipid traits evidence that a considerable amount of genetic variance determining these phenotypes exists, but its molecular basis remains mostly unknown. The recent advent of high-throughput genotyping and sequencing technologies has revolutionised the field of animal genomics. With these powerful tools, finding needles in the genomic haystack has become increasingly feasible. However, these methodological advances should not be deemed as magic bullets. The goal of identifying the many polymorphisms that shape the variability of lipid phenotypes is so challenging that success can be achieved only under the scope of large international consortia.

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