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Lab Overview

The general goals of our laboratory are to: 1) develop and give support to characterization, conservation and genetic improvement programs in different breeds; 2) gain a better understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying production and quality traits in different livestock species. Therefore, our team combines very diverse areas of expertise, spanning from molecular and quantitative genetics to statistics and bioinformatics. The installed capabilities allow the implementation of research activities in different areas, including:

  • Characterization of genetic diversity by molecular markers and demographic indicators, and development of conservation strategies and recommendations
  • Estimation of genetic parameters for various performance traits and species, and implementation of genetic evaluation programs
  • Search for genetic markers associated with production/quality traits and incorporation of these in selection decisions
  • Applications of Biocrystallography to study the structure and function of proteins and protein-complexes.

This work is carried-out in close collaboration with other CIISA groups, in particular the Animal Nutrition and Biotechnology, Animal Production Systems and Tropical Animal Production teams. In addition, cooperation ties are also established with other institutions of the University of Lisbon, including the Center for Environmental Biology of the Faculty of Sciences, and other research groups In Europe as well as in North and South America. Often, the research of our group is carried-out at the request of breeders associations, who are thus direct users of the research outputs.

Selected publications

Bressan, M.C., Rossato, L.V., Rodrigues, E.C, Alves, S.P., Bessa, R.J.B., Ramos, E.R., Gama, L.T. 2011. Genotype x environment interactions for fatty acid profiles in Bos indicus and Bos taurus finished on either pasture or grain. J. Anim. Sci. 89:221-232.

A detailed comparison of meat quality traits in taurine and zebu cattle, demonstrating that fatty acid profiles differ among the two genetic groups, but they interact with the feeding system used.

Martínez, A.M., Gama, L.T., Cañón, J., Ginja, C., Delgado, J.V., Landi, V., Martín-Burriel, I., Penedo, M.C.T., Vega-Pla, J.L., Acosta, A., Álvarez, L.A., Camacho, E., Cortés, O., Dunner, S., Marques, J.R., Martínez, O.R., Martínez, R.D., Melucci, L., Martínez-Velázquez, G., Muñoz, J.E., Postiglioni, A., Quiroz, J., Rodellar, C., Sponenberg, P., Uffo,  O., Villalobos, A., Zambrano, D., Zaragoza, P. 2012. Genetic footprints of Iberian cattle in America 500 years after the arrival of Columbus. PLOS One 7(11): e49066.

A comprehensive investigation of how Iberian and European breeds influenced the development of American Creole cattle. In spite of the massive introduction of zebu in the Americas over the last century, the signs of Iberian influence are still present in many Creole populations.

Gama, L.T., Martínez-Martínez, A., Carolino, M.I., Landi, V., Delgado, J.V., Vicente, A.P., Vega-Pla, J.L., Cortés, O., Sousa, C.O., BIOPIG Consortium. 2013. Genetic structure, relationships and admixture with wild relatives in native pig breeds from Iberia and its islands. Genet. Sel. Evol. 45:18.

An in-depth analysis of pig genetic diversity in the Iberian Peninsula, demonstrating that native pig breeds reveal high levels of genetic diversity, a solid breed structure and a clear organization in well-defined clusters, some showing signs of admixture with wild pigs.

Fushinobu, S., Alves, V.D., Coutinho, P.M. 2013. Multiple rewards from a treasure trove of novel glycoside hydrolase and polysaccharide lyase structures: new folds, mechanistic details, and evolutionary relationship. Current Opinion In Structural Biology 23:652–659.

This review describes Carbohydrate-Active enzymes (CAZymes) involved in the modification/breakdown of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. For each new CAZY family of glycoside hydrolases and polysaccharide lyases we describe the "family first" three-dimensional structures reported after 2009 and emphasize novel techniques to study these enzymes, like high-speed atomic force microscopy, photoactivated localization microscopy and Quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics computational methods.

Vicente, A.A., Carolino, N., Ralão-Duarte, J., Gama, L.T. 2014. Selection for morphology, gait and functional traits in Lusitano horses. I. Genetic parameter estimates. Livestock Sci. 164:1-12. 

The first analysis of genetic variability for morphological and functional traits in Lusitano horses (the more important horse breed in Portugal, with vast worldwide expansion). Heritability estimates were moderate for morphology and intermediate for dressage ability. Genetic relationships between morphology and performance were favorable, indicating that morphology/gaits traits can enhance genetic improvement for working equitation and classical dressage.

 

Relevant collaborations

Among the various collaborative activities carried out by the AnGR Lab of CIISA, the following are considered are considered more relevant:

  • collaboration with several breed associations, giving advice and providing technical support to their selection and conservation programs.
  • participation in the Management Commission of the Portuguese Animal Germplasm Bank.
  • membership of various scientific consortia involving more than 20 research groups, aimed at studying genetic diversity of different livestock species in Iberoamerican countries.