• The use of genomics in conservation management of the endangered Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons)

      Nuijten, R. J. M.; Bosse, M.; Crooijmans, Rpma; Madsen, O.; Schaftenaar, W.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Groenen, M. A. M.; Megens, H. J. (2016)
      The list of threatened and endangered species is growing rapidly, due to various anthropogenic causes. Many endangered species are present in captivity and actively managed in breeding programs in which often little is known about the founder individuals. Recent developments in genetic research techniques have made it possible to sequence and study whole genomes. In this study we used the critically endangered Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons) as a case study to test the use of genomic information as a tool in conservation management. Two captive populations of S. cebifrons exist, which originated from two different Philippine islands. We found some evidence for a recent split between the two island populations; however all individuals that were sequenced show a similar demographic history. Evidence for both past and recent inbreeding indicated that the founders were at least to some extent related. Together with this, the low level of nucleotide diversity compared to other Sus species potentially poses a threat to the viability of the captive populations. In conclusion, genomic techniques answered some important questions about this critically endangered mammal and can be a valuable toolset to inform future conservation management in other species as well.
    • Using genome-wide measures of coancestry to maintain diversity and fitness in endangered and domestic pig populations

      Bosse, Mirte; Megens, Hendrik-Jan; Madsen, Ole; Crooijmans, Richard P. M. A.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Austerlitz, Frédéric; Groenen, Martien A. M.; Cara, M. Angeles R. de (2015)
      Conservation and breeding programs aim at maintaining the most diversity, thereby avoiding deleterious effects of inbreeding while maintaining enough variation from which traits of interest can be selected. Theoretically, the most diversity is maintained using optimal contributions based on many markers to calculate coancestries, but this can decrease fitness by maintaining linked deleterious variants. The heterogeneous patterns of coancestry displayed in pigs make them an excellent model to test these predictions. We propose methods to measure coancestry and fitness from resequencing data and use them in population management. We analyzed the resequencing data of Sus cebifrons, a highly endangered porcine species from the Philippines, and genotype data from the Pietrain domestic breed. By analyzing the demographic history of Sus cebifrons, we inferred two past bottlenecks that resulted in some inbreeding load. In Pietrain, we analyzed signatures of selection possibly associated with commercial traits. We also simulated the management of each population to assess the performance of different optimal contribution methods to maintain diversity, fitness, and selection signatures. Maximum genetic diversity was maintained using marker-by-marker coancestry, and least using genealogical coancestry. Using a measure of coancestry based on shared segments of the genome achieved the best results in terms of diversity and fitness. However, this segment-based management eliminated signatures of selection. We demonstrate that maintaining both diversity and fitness depends on the genomic distribution of deleterious variants, which is shaped by demographic and selection histories. Our findings show the importance of genomic and next-generation sequencing information in the optimal design of breeding or conservation programs.