Recent and rapid advances in genomic tools and statistical methods, together with the increasing amount of genetic and phenotypic data recorded now allow us to accurately define the genomic regions associated with disease resistance in livestock. The identification of animals 'resistant' to a specific disease can then be used in selection schemes, with the aim to develop a more robust, healthier livestock population. This would be followed by a reduction in the use of veterinary medicines such as antibiotics or anthelminthics, slowing down the development of resistance to these drugs.
There are nevertheless limitations to breeding for improved livestock robustness. For example antagonist interactions between the resistances to different diseases, as well as interactions with some production traits are expected. Another problem is the fast evolution of pathogen genomes to overcome host resistance making this kind of breeding selection programme sometimes unsustainable. Future research should help to develop accurate and low-cost biomarkers, unravel the mechanisms of the infections and produce effective vaccines and prophylactic treatments.
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