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Invited review: Genomic analysis of data from physiological studies

Garrick, D.J., Baumgard, L.H., Neibergs, H.L.
Journal of dairy science 2012 v.95 no.2 pp. 499-507
DNA, RNA, animal performance, animals, gene banks, genes, genetic merit, genomics, mutants, nucleotide sequences, physiological state, physiologists
Physiology deals with the functions of living organisms and their systems, and its scientific endeavors can be viewed as having temporally occurred in 3 phases. The first phase of physiology studies focused on determining the functions of particular organs and tissues and their functional differences according to physiological status. The second phase of studies focused on characterizing differences in these functions according to the environment, or productivity. The third phase of studies focuses on determining the physiological causes of differences in productivity. Distinguishing cause from effect in physiological systems of inter-related processes is problematic, such that science has struggled to identify the root physiological mechanisms and their role in the network of genes leading to differences in productivity. Genomics is the study of the entire genome and provides powerful new tools that will accelerate third-phase discoveries of causal physiological processes. That research exploits information on DNA polymorphisms known as markers, complete DNA sequence, RNA sequence, and RNA expression in particular tissues at specific life stages. Physiologists can determine the genetic cause of mutant animals, identify genetic differences between cases and controls, and identify genes responsible for differences in performance between average and above-average animals. In some species, physiologists can leverage genomic data being used to predict genetic merit in elite seedstock populations, as a starting point to identify genes that will then motivate detailed physiological studies in the organs or tissues and stages of life in which those genes are expressed. Such work will increase our knowledge of biology and may lead to novel approaches to manipulate animal performance.