Better knowledge and skills in bioinformatics, programming and analysis of genomic data can improve breeding of livestock. In an ongoing course researchers from SLU and ILRI are providing training for researchers in Africa.
The advancement in genomic research provides scientists with the opportunity to address some of Africa’s agricultural sector problems. Vast amount of genetic data, including whole genome sequences, are now available to researchers.
Researchers from the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics are in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) arranging a course aimed at researchers to develop their knowledge in bioinformatics and population genomics applied to livestock. The course is provided through the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock.
“We arranged a similar course within the same program in Ethiopia two years ago. This was highly appreciated and this time we reached out to participants across Africa and within two weeks we got more than 1000 applications for 40 places in this course,” says Emelie Zonabend König, who is one of the organizers of the course.
This training course covers first the basics of bioinformatics, programming and how to use genomic data. The course participants will then learn about how to apply this in breeding programmes and be able to apply their new knowledge and skills on their own data.
“Bioinformatics is becoming more and more important and it is very helpful to have at least a basic understanding of programming. Traditional breeding methods are fundamental but need to complemented with new methods, not only in Africa, but everywhere.”
Even though the course is given online the number of participants is limited to 40 to ensure sufficient hands-on help during the practical exercises. Emelie Zonabend König emphasizes that she was pushing for the digital format even before the pandemic.
“Courses online can reach a wider audience and nowadays we have a lot of digital tools. It is also more sustainable if we don’t need to travel.”