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INRA
24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Menu Logo Principal AgroParisTech Université Paris-Saclay

INRA GABI Unit

GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

GABI has been performing official French genetic evaluations since 1966.

Since the 1966 Livestock Breeding Act and the 2006 Framework Act on Agriculture, the French government has entrusted INRA with the official genetic evaluations of breeding animals. This mission of the Animal Genetics division is led by GABI for cattle, pig and horse.

The objective of genetic evaluation is to estimate the genetic value of breeding animals, that is to estimate the expectation of what is transmitted to their progeny for a particular trait. This genetic value cannot be observed and must therefore be estimated from three types of information: pedigree, performances (or phenotypes) and more recently, genome polymorphisms. Thus, an evaluated animal is characterized by an estimated breeding value (EBV) for each analyzed trait. Genetic selection will then be applied on these EBV to improve animals over generations.
To fulfil its mission on genetic evaluation, INRA uses the National Genetic Information Systems (or SNIG). SNIG is a software shared by all the partners and is developed in relation with the technical institutes for each species. It includes a database that manages all data produced by the different partners: EDE (identification and parentage), performance testing, insemination centers, breed associations, laboratories, slaughterhouses, etc. The Genetic Information Processing Center (CTIG, located at Jouy-en-Josas) is the central point of a complex network. It centralises and exchanges the data among more than 200 organizations.

GABI is responsible for the genetic evaluation of cattle, pigs and horses. To do this, we develop statistical methods and computer applications, perform calculations and provide recommendations for their use. The evaluations are performed periodically, from once a year to once every week for the most frequent, depending on species and traits. The number of traits evaluated increases regularly in all species, in response to the complex selection objectives and needs. Throughout time, besides productivity traits that are directly associated with product sales, traits related to product quality (meat, milk) and functional traits that are important for animal longevity and health, are also measured and evaluated. Today, for example, more than fourty traits are evaluated in dairy cattle. The traits that have recently been evaluated are stillbirth in cattle, mastitis resistance, calving to first insemination interval in dairy cattle, and carcass traits recorded at the slaughterhouse, temperament, fertility, length of productive life, and adult morphology in beef cattle, as well as calf carcass traits in both productions. Bovine evaluations have been ISO9001 certified since 2006.

Genetic evaluation is performed in close partnership with technical institutes that are in charge of disseminating the results to users. This strong relationship between INRA research teams and the Institut de l'Elevage (Idele) and ALLICE (formerly UNCEIA) was recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture with the labellisation renewal of the eBIS "Joint Technological Unit" (UMT) in 2015 for 5 years. This UMT defines common projects and the different roles of each partner. Similarly,the Horse technical institute (IFCE), with the technical support of Idele, performs genetic evaluations on riding and race horses and benefits from our scientific and computer environment. In pigs, genetic evaluation is carried out in close collaboration with the the French Pork and Pig Institute (IFIP).

The use of genomic data is currently revolutionizing genetic evaluations. GABI is at the cutting edge of world research, participating in the development of new tools and methods allowing the use of all new information. After a first-generation marker-assisted selection program (2001-2008), genomic selection has been implemented as early as October 2008. Since then, several hundred of thousand animals have been genotyped each year and the quality of the evaluations shows that progeny test of bulls is no longer necessary. This innovation is one of the most important in the field of selection in recent decades. This program has undergone major developments with officializing genomic EBV in 2009, the creation of Valogene (a company for genomic EBV dissemination), a strong collaboration within EuroGenomics consortium, extension of genomic selection to an increasing number of populations (11 dairy and beef breeds in 2016) and traits, use of low density chips and imputation. Similar developments are ongoing in other species.

The European Zootechnical Regulation recognizes Selection Organizations (OS) as responsible for their genetic evaluations. This regulation comes into force in November 2018. A industry structure, GenEval, has been created to produce genetic evaluations on behalf of OS. During 2018, INRA transferred its software to GenEval so that the handover could take place under the best possible conditions. The G2B team of GABI has since repositioned itself in a more upstream activity, for the design of evaluation methods and population management tools that are intended to be disseminated through GenEval.