Research on resistance to disease and its applications fall into four overlapping epochs: (I) Starting from the I930's, genetic variation in resistance to disease had been recognized and feasibility of genetic selection for resistance demonstrated. Estimates of genetic parameters indicated that selection for resistance to specific pathogens had good prospects. (II) Subsequently, progress in the understanding of resistance mechanisms resulted in practical applications, such as indirect selection for resistance based on haplotypes of the major histocompatibility complex. (Ill) More recently, molecular genetics started to elucidate the DNA bases of disease resistance traits e. g. by gene cloning and identification of quantitative trait loci within resistance polygenes. (IV) First experiments in genetic engineering of new resistance mechanisms indicate potential usefulness of this approach. It is concluded that considerable progress in disease resistance has been achieved at both the scientific and practical levels. Conventional breeding methods will remain the principal approach to improvements of resistance to disease but in some instances, genetic engineering of resistance mechanisms will be justified. Genetic resistance will gain importance as the most environmentally desirable method of disease control.

J. S Gavora

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 24: Sheep and goats (fibre); sheep and goats (meat and milk); poultry; horses; buffaloes., , 253–258, 1998
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