Iowa State University (ISU) animal science professor Max Rothschild and graduate student Kwan Suk Kim have been honored for developing a simple laboratory test for pig appetite regulation.

Their discovery, the PT1 gene test, earned an R&D 100 award as one of the year’s best new technologies.

The R&D 100 award is shared with Syngen International, Berkeley, CA. PIC, a Syngen company that applies genomics and biotechnology to animal breeding, has licensed the PT1 gene test from ISU’s Research Foundation.

The gene test helps identify boars whose progeny have a lower appetite, eat less feed, grow leaner and produce less manure, says Rothschild.

The gene test permits selection early in life, without measuring animals or weighing feed.

"If the semen donor boar has two copies of the beneficial version of the gene, then each sperm cell will be carrying one, guaranteed," he stresses. "This is more tangible for customers who traditionally have been asked to accept an estimated breeding value based on statistics."