Scientists at the University of Kent, working with colleagues from the genetics research industry, have developed a new genetic screening device and protocol that helps pig breeding.
Through her work, Dr Rebecca O'Connor in the School of Biosciences, found previously undiscovered, fundamental flaws in the pig genome, the results of which have contributed to improved mapping of the pig genome.
In pigs - which provide 43% of the meat consumed worldwide - a chromosome defect can affect fertility.
With each pig producing as many as 14 piglets per litter, a faulty chromosome can reduce this by as much as half, with massive economic costs to the producer.
Dr O'Connor's research, carried out in the Griffin Laboratory, has led to the development of chromosome screening devices for both pigs and cattle and a chromosome screening service to multiple agricultural food providers.
Now with 13 clients in eight different countries, the team are screening hundreds of samples a year, as well as adapting the method to screen for chromosome abnormalities in other species.
The research findings were presented to agricultural industry leaders at the Pig Breeders Round Table Conference, one of the foremost international conferences on livestock genetics, held at the University of Kent in May 2017.
Dr O'Connor, research associate in the School of Biosciences, won the 2017 University Prize for Postgraduate Research in recognition of her 'exceptional publication record, and achievements far beyond those normally expected of a doctoral student'.
The paper was entitled Isolation of subtelomeric sequences of porcine chromosomes for translocation screening reveals errors in the pig genome assembly (Dr Rebecca O'Connor and Professor Darren Griffin, University of Kent; Dr. G. Fonseka, Dr. M. Lawrie and R. Frodsham, Cytocell Ltd, Cambridge; Professor A. L. Archibald, The Roslin Institute, R(D)SVS, University of Edinburgh, Division of Genetics and Genomics, Midlothian; and G. A. Walling, JSR Genetics, Southburn, Driffield, North Humberside) was published in Animal Genetics.
For further information or interview requests contact Sandy Fleming at the University of Kent Press Office.
Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879
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Note to editors
 Genetics industry partners are Cytocell Ltd and JSR Genetics.
Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked: 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017; and 25th in the Complete University Guide 2018.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.
In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities.
Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.
The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.
In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.