$10 Million Awarded for Sequencing Pig Genome
February 1, 2006
The USDA has awarded to U of I $10 million to provide the initial genome sequence of the pig. Animal geneticists, Lawrence Schook and Jonathan Beever recently created a comparison of the human and pig genomes. Bruce Schatz will join them to take the research to the next level.

Schook, who will serve as director on the project calls this the ultimate comparison. We'll be able to see how the various proteins in the genes work together to make for example a human toe nail as opposed to a pig hoof.

He says that there are remarkable similarities between the pig and the human, but they are also very different. There may be two or three percent of the genome that actually determine whether the organism becomes a pig or a human. This information will show those differences.

The scale of this project is huge. Picture a million test tubes. There are 2.5 billion base pairs in the pig genome and only 500 can be done at time. Each time takes a couple of hours to do. Even so, this phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in just 24 months, coincidentally, just in time for the 2007 Chinese year of the pig.