Clinical animal cytogenetics development began in the 1960's, almost at the same time as human cytogenetics. However, the development of the two disciplines has been very different during the last four decades. Clinical animal cytogenetics reached its 'Golden Age' at the end of the 1980's. The majority of the laboratories, as well as the main screening programs in farm animal species, presented in this review, were implemented during that period, under the guidance of some historical leaders, the first of whom was Ingemar Gustavsson. Over the past 40 years, hundreds of scientific publications reporting original chromosomal abnormalities generally associated with clinical disorders (mainly fertility impairment) have been published. Since the 1980's, the number of scientists involved in clinical animal cytogenetics has drastically decreased for different reasons and the activities in that field are now concentrated in only a few laboratories (10 to 15, mainly in Europe), some of which have become highly specialized. Currently between 8,000 and 10,000 chromosomal analyses are carried out each year worldwide, mainly in cattle, pigs, and horses. About half of these analyses are performed in one French laboratory. Accurate estimates of the prevalence of chromosomal abnormalities in some populations are now available. For instance, one phenotypically normal pig in 200 controlled in France carries a structural chromosomal rearrangement. The frequency of the widespread 1;29 Robertsonian translocation in cattle has greatly decreased in most countries, but remains rather high in certain breeds (up to 20-25% in large beef cattle populations, even higher in some local breeds). The continuation, and in some instances the development of the chromosomal screening programs in farm animal populations allowed the implementation of new and original scientific projects, aimed at exploring some basic questions in the fields of chromosome and/or cell biology, thanks to easier access to interesting biological materials (germ cells, gametes, embryos...).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology