The bricolage of pig genomics

James Lowe*, Rhodri Leng, Gil Viry, Mark Wong, Niki Vermeulen, Miguel Garcia-Sancho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The history of genomic research on the pig (Sus scrofa)—as uncovered through archival research, oral histories, and the analysis of a quantitative dataset and co-authorship network—demonstrates the importance of two distinct genealogies. These consist of research programs focused on agriculturally oriented genetics, on the one hand, and systematics research concerned with evolution and diversity, on the other. The relative weight of these two modes of research shifted following the production of a reference genome for the species from 2006 to 2011. Before this inflection point, the research captured in our networks mainly involved intensive sequencing that concentrated primarily on increasing the resolution of genomic data both in particular regions and more widely across the genome. Sequencing practices later became more extensive, with greater focus on the generation and comparison of sequence data across and between populations. We explain these shifts in research modes as a function of the availability, circulation, distribution, and exchange of genomic tools and resources—including data and materials—concerning the pig in general, and increasingly for particular populations. Consequently, we describe the history of pig genomics as constituting a kind of bricolage, in which geneticists cobbled together resources to which they had access—often ones produced by them for other purposes—in pursuit of their research aims. The concept of bricolage adds to the thicker vision of genomics that we have shown throughout the special issue and further highlights the singularity of the dominant, thin narrative focused on the production of the human reference sequence at large-scale genome centers. This essay is part of a special issue entitled The Sequences and the Sequencers: A New Approach to Investigating the Emergence of Yeast, Human, and Pig Genomics, edited by Michael García-Sancho and James Lowe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-442
Number of pages42
JournalHistorical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • genomics
  • sequencing
  • mapping
  • Sus scrofa
  • pig
  • agriculture
  • systematics


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