Genetic mutations associated with skin & wool growth in sheep

Animal science sheep

Identifying genetic mutations in sheep DSC1 & DSG4 genes essential for skin and wool follicle architecture.

Australia is one of the world’s largest wool producers, with an estimated value of wool export of around $3 billion in 2015-16.

Genetic factor is a major element influencing physical characteristics of wool traits such as clean fleece weight, staple strength, staple length and fibre diameter. Wool quality traits are polygenic traits, whereby several genes are associated with a wool phenotype.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and quantitative trait loci (QTL) studies have shown that keratin and demosomal associated genes expressed in the outer layer of the skin influence fibre traits in sheep.

Although several candidate genes have been linked to wool production traits, further investigation is required to identify and characterise genetic mutations within these candidate genes to fully understand their role in influencing wool quality.

In this project, you will identify mutations within two candidate genes (DSC1 & DSG4) known to maintain skin barrier function and hair/wool structure. Mutations identified in this project can be used for SNP-genotyping in future studies. Cohorts of sheep with known wool production traits can be genotyped to determine whether the known mutations increases/decreases wool quality.


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