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Current Research Interests

Application of population and quantitative genetic approaches to dissect the genetic basis of phenotypic traits in domesticated animal species and to analyze the processes of domestication and breed development.

Research Interests

Our research focuses on the genetics of domesticated animals. This involves the application of population and quantitative genetic approaches to dissect the genetic basis of phenotypic traits and to improve understanding of domestication and breed development. We also exploit the wealth of historical information on domesticated species to develop and improve methods of analysis, which can be applied to a variety of species.

Dissection of the genetic basis of phenotypic traits in domesticated animals: We are concerned with improving our understanding of complex traits, those influenced by multiple genes as well as environmental factors, and then using this understanding to improve strategies for management of livestock and companion animals. Most recently, we have been investigating hip dysplasia in dogs, a common disease with polygenic inheritance. This study is one of the first applications of genomic evaluation (the use of high-density markers for calculating breeding values) in companion animals, where our research suggests this may be an important breeding tool for improvement of health-related traits. We have also been dissecting factors that influence behavioural traits in dogs, using a combination of multivariate statistics, quantitative and population genetics and genomics approaches.

Improvement of understanding of domestication, breed development and commercialisation processes: We apply population genetics approaches to the study of domestication and breed development in various domesticated animal species. We also use domesticated animals as test cases with which the performance of different statistical methods can be compared in terms of their characterisation of population structure and assignment of individuals to population origin.

Exploitation of features of domesticated animals to develop and improve genetic mapping methods: Another focus of our work is the development, evaluation and application of methods for the identification of genomic regions under selection, with three main aims: (1) to better understand the processes of evolutionary change in domesticated species, (2) to identify genes associated with selected phenotypes and (3) to improve the methods for detection of genes under selection using genomic data.

Biography

Pam Wiener has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Virginia (USA) and a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University (USA), where she applied mathematical models to investigate evolutionary processes. Following postdoctoral fellowships at Emory University (USA) and the University of Warwick, she joined the Roslin Institute. She was appointed Career Track Fellow in 2011 and Group Leader in 2015.

Her research involves the application of population and quantitative genetics techniques to the study of domesticated animals, with the aims of improving understanding of the domestication and breed development processes, unravelling the genetic architecture of production and disease-related traits and contributing to the implementation of selection schemes for improved animal health and welfare. She has developed methods for detection of selection signatures and applied them in a range of species, including cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens and dogs. She has also used linkage and association mapping techniques to detect genomic regions associated with animal production, behaviour and disease-related traits.

Highlighted research outputs

  1. Genomic prediction of traits related to canine hip dysplasia

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Detecting signatures of selection in nine distinct lines of broiler chickens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Management and personality in Labrador Retriever dogs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Signatures of diversifying selection in European pig breeds

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Deciphering the genetic basis of animal domestication

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  6. A Regression-Based Approach to Selection Mapping

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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