Advanced breeding programmes for sustainable crop and livestock production

2nd May, The Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.


This workshop was developed as a cross-sector activity between the Knowledge Transfer Network's Plant and Animal Sectors to take forward the theme area ‘Innovation in Animal & Plant Production and Performance'.

The workshop highlighted current applications of genomic selection in crop and livestock production, identified challengesand applications for the implementation of genomic selection in plant, aquaculture and animal breeding programmes, and reviewed the current tools and technologies available for genomic selection

The meeting brought together leading researchers and industrialists from the plant and animal breeding sectors to exchange knowledge and share best practice in crop and livestock breeding.  The meeting also provided opportunities for delegates to network and learn about the most recent advances in research through a poster presentation session.

Professor David W. Burt opened the workshop and provided an introduction to the Roslin Institute and overview of research undertaken at Roslin relevant to Genomic Selection and implementation of these technologies in animal and livestock breeding. Dr Tom Jenkins then provided an overview of KTN & the objectives of the workshop.

Abstracts from each of the presentations listed below, and a short biography from each speaker can be found in the workshop booklet

To access a presentation, please click on the titles below.


Session 1.Genomic Selection: opportunities and applications in crop and livestock production

This session provided delegates with an overview of current applications of genomic selection in breeding programmes. The session was divided into two parts and consisted of eight presentations, provided by experts from the plant, aquaculture and animal breeding industry and research-base.


PART 1. Chair: Huw Jones , Biosciences

An Introduction to Genomic Selection
Chris Warkup, KTN

Implementation of Genomic Selection in Commercial Pig Breeding
Dave McLaren, Genus plc

Utilising Genomic Information in Aquaculture Breeding Programmes
Ross Houston, Roslin Institute

Challenges and Advancements in Poultry Breeding - NOT AVAILABLE
Victor Olori, Aviagen


PART 2. Chair: Andy Greenland, NIAB

Implementation of Genomic Selection in Dairy and Beef Cattle
Mike Coffey, SAC

Challenges and Opportunities to Using Genomic Selection in Outbreeding

Leif Skøt, IBERS

Challenges and opportunities to using genomic selection in breeding crops.
Ian MacKay, NIAB

Genomic selection in non-food crops
Leopoldo Sanchez, INRA


Session 2: Tools and Technologies

This session provided delegates with an overview of the state of art in DNA analysis technologies, and quantitative and statistical genetic techniques applied to crop and livestock breeding.
Chair: David W. Burt, Roslin Institute

Statistical inference approaches in genomic selection
David Balding, UCL

Non-additive variance, algorithms and analytical tools
John Woolliams, Roslin Institute

Generating new sequence and genotypes
Jerry Taylor, University Missouri

Session 3.Poster Abstract Presentation

This session provided delegates with an opportunity to learn about recent advances in research relevant to plant, aquaculture and animal breeding, and development of tools and technologies that could help with the application of genomic selection.  Short 5 minute presentations were delivered ahead of a networking session where more detailed discussions could be taken forward between workshop participants.
Abstracts from each of the presentations listed below, can be found in the poster presentation booklet.  

Chair: Aurora Piñas Fernández, KTN

Plant Breeding:

PB#1 Rapid Bulk Inbreeding (RABID) as an alternative to single seed descendent for genetics and breeding of self-fertilizing species- Ian MacKay, NIAB

PB#2 Analysis of commercially important traits on a new diploid potato population- Glen Bryan, JHI

PB#3 Developing genetic marker technology in parsnip (Pastinacasativa) to improve breeding efficiency- Like Bell, Elsom Seeds Ltd.

PB#4 Application of association mapping and genomic sequencing to modern potato breeding-Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, JHI.

Animal Breeding:

AB#1 Efficient goat production for sustainable goat milk production - Joanne Conington, SAC.

AB#2 Mining for disease resistance candidate genes using comparative genomics in Atlantic salmon- SerapGonen, Roslin Institute.

AB#3 The potential for genomic evaluation to reduce boar taint in pigs - Suzanne Rowe,Roslin Institute

AB#4 Utilising sequence data and genomics to improve novel carcass traits in beef cattle- Mike Coffey, SAC

AB#5 Development of high density (600K) SNP genotyping array for genomic selection in commercial broiler and layer chicken- Clarissa Boschiero, Roslin Institute.

AB#6 Genomic selection in UK beef cattle- Darren Tood, SAC

AB#7 The Sustainable Solutions for Small Ruminants Project (3SR)- Kezia Williams, Biosciences KTN.

Tools and Technologies:

TT#1 Genetic Control of Response to Epidemic PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome)- Christopher Orrett, Roslin Institute.

TT#2 Resequencing of champions: detection of haplotypes under selection in dairy cattle- Dennis M. Larkin, University of Aberystwyth.


Conclusions and next steps

The workshop brought together a network of researchers, technology providers, funders and industrialists that have a common interest in the development and application of genomic selection approaches in commercial breeding programmes. 

The workshop highlighted some opportunities for sharing of best-practice across breeding programmes and potential to identify common breeding targets between plant, aquaculture and animal breeders to optimise crops/feed and nutrient use efficiency in fish and livestock to help meet some of the important global challenges we face this century, such as food security and climate change. 

We will be investigating interest from workshop participants and wider stakeholders to attend a follow-up meeting to further develop opportunities for plant, aquaculture and livestock breeders to work together for mutual benefit.



A report summarising the workshop outcomes has been published and is available through this link.


Breakout Session

Experts from aquaculture, plant and animal breeding sectors took forward discussion on May 3rd to identify R&D priority areas, technology needs in each community, share best-practice and identify opportunities between the sectors to collaborate for mutual benefits. The summary report for this session is available through this link.

Got a question or suggestion?


If you are interested in being involved in follow-up activities of the KTN theme area ‘Innovation in Animal & Plant Production and Performance' please contact a member of the KTN's team:


Dr Huw Jones
Animal and Plants Sector Lead


Dr Tristan Eagling
Knowledge Transfer Manager, Plants & Crops Sector


Jean Phillips
Communication, Events & Sector Support Administrator