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Optimizing ex situ genetic resource collections for European livestock conservation

De Oliveira Silva, Rafael, Ahmadi, Bouda Vosough, Hiemstra, Sipke Joost, Moran, Dominic
Journal of animal breeding and genetics 2019 v.136 no.1 pp. 63-73
breeding, extinction, gene banks, livestock, mathematical models, risk
Ex situ collections offer the potential to reduce extinction risks, affording option to society in maintaining future breeding opportunities for productivity and heritage traits. However, how much should we be seeking to collect and conserve in gene banks, and where? We developed a mathematical model to optimize logistical decisions of breed conservation choices and to evaluate alternative scenarios for efficiently re‐allocating genetic materials currently stored in different European gene banks, allowing for cross‐country collections, cost and cryogenic capacity differentials. We show how alternative allocations for the breeds that are currently stored in 11 European gene banks could reduce overall conservation costs by around 20% by selecting cryogenic banks that have relatively lower combination of fixed and collection costs, and are geographically closer to collection regions. Our results show that centralizing collections in one gene bank would double the costs, relative to collective European collections approaches. We also calculate marginal costs of collections and show that increasing diversity within the gene banks implies in higher costs per conserved breed.