Welcome to the website of the Animal Breeding, Quantitative Genetics and Systems Biology (AQS) Group  at the Department of Large Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The AQS group is a research and teaching group which focuses on quantitative genetics and genomics, animal breeding and systems genetics/biology of animal health and welfare, animal diseases, animal production and animal reproduction in major livestock species such as cattle, pigs and sheep. The group is also involved in experimental animal models for unraveling genetics and systems genetics of human diseases. The group leader is Professor Haja Kadarmideen. Besides running the group, he is also the scientific director of two international R&D consortia:  the Danish-Indian BioChild Consortium (BioChild: Genetics and Systems Biology of Childhood Obesity in India and Denmark) and the Danish-Brazilian GIFT Consortium (GIFT: Genomic Improvement of Fertilization traits in Danish and Brazilian Cattle).

In the quantitative genetics and genomics and animal breeding area, we conduct research and development of genetic parameter estimation (heritability, whole genomic breeding values and trait correlations), genomic selection and breeding program designs for implementation by livestock industries, sustainable animal breeding systems for improving not only production but also efficiency of production and resource use, product quality and animal health and welfare. Whole genomic prediction and genomic selection is an advanced method of estimation of breeding values and population genetic parameters using traditional phenotypic and pedigree information combined with high-throughput SNPchip genotypic data from a large number of animals. These whole genomic prediction and selection (WGP-WGS) approaches are now extended to include the use of whole genome DNA sequences. The group is involved in WGP-WGS work in animal models, human obesity and psychiatric disorders in collaboration with national and international partners. It also has a strong interest and activity in developing countries with respect to above research and development. The group has significant activities and outputs in the area of integrated & sustainable animal production in Denmark as well as in developing countries via collaborations.

With modern high-throughput and next-generation sequencing technologies, hugely comprehensive data at all levels of the biological system are now available (from genome-wide, epigenome-wide, transcriptome-wide or proteome-wide measurements). Systems genetics is based on the fact that variations in DNA (e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms) impact complex phenotypic traits (macro-traits) through transcript, protein and metabolite abundance and other molecular networks. Systems genetics collectively models and analyzes these multi-omic datasets using a combination of mathematical, computational biology and bioinformatics principles and tools. We aim to study genetic variations of these intermediate molecular phenotypes that eventuate as an observed trait or clinical diseases at the animal or human level. The “systems” aspects of systems genetics is therefore focused on testing and correlating genetic variants for a range of intermediate phenotypes and observed phenotypes in related or unrelated individuals as well as characterizing those parts of the molecular networks that drive these complex phenotypes. We apply systems genetics approaches for detecting causal genetic factors and their dynamic networks underlying important diseases and traits in both humans (e.g. obesity and psychiatric disorders) and animals (e.g. production and health). We are collaborating partners in human systems genetics, molecular biology, embryology, stem cell, reproductive biology and biotechnology projects.

With molecular animal breeding, quantitative-systems genetics and systems biology research, we aim to develop highly accurate genomic prediction and genomic selection approaches, develop predictive genetic- and biomarkers and provide comprehensive system-level understanding of complex traits and diseases in animals and humans. We hope to make an impact in the agri-biotech and biomedical industries via these innovative approaches in animals and humans.