Max Rothschild, C.F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture at Iowa State University, is part of a research team that will be presented an award for technology transfer. The mid-continent region of the Federal Laboratory Consortium will present its Excellence in Technology Transfer Award to an international team of scientists that developed the Porcine SNP Beadchip, a tool marketed as “a cost-effective and high-quality solution for interrogating genetic variation in multiple porcine breeds.” Illumina Inc., headquartered in San Diego, licensed the technology and sells it as part of genetic analysis kits.

The Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium developed the SNP, which stands for single nucleotide polymorphism, chip for pigs. The chip is a microscope slide on which DNA sequences are immobilized and helps detect variation in DNA components between different individuals.

The pig SNP chip allows researchers to genotype each animal for more than 60,000 genetic differences and is helpful in understanding what genes are associated with differences in production traits and genetic abnormalities.

“This SNP chip has helped revolutionize genetic research to understand the underlying differences between animals for traits like growth rate, feed efficiency, meat quality and reproduction,” says Rothschild, who also is a professor of animal science and serves as the U.S. Pig Genome coordinator.

The chip also will allow breeders and breeding companies to employ “genomic selection,” a method to estimate the breeding value of each animal based on these individual gene differences and not just their phenotypic or physical trait, records, according to Rothschild.

“Such selection will improve accuracy, increase the efficiency of pork production and improve the pork products produced for the consumer,” he says.

The award will be presented Aug. 31 at the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s (FLC) annual meeting. The FLC is the nationwide network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace.