University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture

Horizon 2020 :: Approved funding for the project GEroNIMO

The European Commission has approved funding for the GEroNIMO project proposal submitted under the tender H2020-SFS-2020-2 (Sustainable Food Security) and theme SFS-13-2020 (Genome and epigenome enabled breeding in terrestrial livestock) as an RIA action (Research and Innovation Action).

The project coordinator is the Institut national de recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement (INRAE) from France, and the University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture is one of 21 partners from 11 European countries that will participate in the project. The project leader at the Faculty of Agriculture is prof. dr. sc. Danijel Karolyi from the Department of Animal Science, and associates are prof. dr. sc. Krešimir Salajpal, prof.dr.sc. Zoran Luković and doc.dr.sc. Dubravko Škorput.

Estimated project budget is 7,065,711.75 €. The duration of the project is 60 months, and the start of implementation is scheduled for June 1, 2021.

Project abstract

To face human population growth, increasing environmental constraints and changes in socio-cultural values, animal breeding must evolve toward a more sustainable model that guarantees production while promoting efficient resource use, animal health and welfare, and preserving genetic diversity. Thanks to recent developments in omics technologies, it is now possible to rethink breeding, taking advantage of improved knowledge on genome-to-phenome relationships that accounts for both genetic and non-genetic mechanisms controlling traits. GEroNIMO will work on chicken and pig, the most used sources of animal protein worldwide, to provide breeders with new knowledge and tools to promote innovative genome and epigenome enabled selection methods for traits related to production (quantity and quality), efficiency, productive longevity, fertility, resilience and welfare. A large number of animals from cosmopolitan and local breeds will be characterized phenotypically, genetically and epigenetically under different environments to i) identify underlying biological mechanisms affecting trait variation, ii) develop methods to improve selection strategies integrating genetic- and non-genetic factors, and iii) propose strategies to optimize the conservation of genetic and epigenetic diversity. GEroNIMO proposes demand-driven innovation employing a multi-actor approach through the involvement of breeders, professional associations of animal production, and scientists, engaged from the planning phase to the dissemination of results over Europe. GEroNIMO will build on existing academic and commercial knowledge and will analyse large populations to quantify the contribution of genetic and epigenetic variation in gene expression, trait variation and trade-offs between traits. GEroNIMO will also propose a comprehensive and enhanced characterization of diversity by integrating epigenetic diversity into conservation purposes, corresponding to a new integrated conservation strategy.