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PhD Student: Erica Gorla

Graduated in Animal Husbandry Sciences and Technologies at the Università degli Studi di Milano in December 2015 with full marks and honors (110/110 cum laude), with a dissertation concerning CNV detection in different Italian chicken breeds “CNV MAPPING IN SOME ITALIAN CHICKEN POPULATIONS” (supervisor: Prof. Alessandro Bagnato, assistant supervisor: Dr. Maria Giuseppina Strillacci). After graduation she spends 6 moths at the Department of Veterinary Sciences as part of the Prof. Bagnato group, working on CNV detection and analysis in the Mexican chicken population. She is also involved in the presentation of a proposal to the European Commission “Omic Tools to improve Resilience and Efficiency in cattle populations – OTRE” Her main research interest is animal genetics and genomic with particular reference to structural variants mapping (CNV and SNP). Her work is now focused on the research on genetic basis of resilience in different cattle breeds. She is co-author of the paper “Genomic and genetic variability of six chicken populations using single nucleotide polymorphism and copy number variants as markers” published in international journals (Strillacci, et al 2016), and co-author of the abstract ‘Genetic structure of different Italian and Mexican chicken populations’ for international conference EAAP (Strillacci, M.G., et al (2016)Abstract no.: 24332. EAAP Annual Meeting 2016, Belfast, UK)

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Tutor: Alessandro Bagnato
Associate Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan, Italy.
At present his main research field deals with the identification of structural genomic variants, mapping of genes and QTLs for traits of economic importance (traits related to animal production animal health and welfare and correlated to food health and safety) in dairy cattle populations and with application in breeding programs of marker assisted selection (MAS), of gene assisted selection (GAS) and genomic selection in livestock. Part of his research activity is devoted to national and international optimization of genetic evaluation and selection programs, mainly in dairy cattle. He also has developed research in the field of in situ conservation of endangered livestock populations.
He is coordinating the molecular genetics and Bioinformatics facility of his Department, equipped for DNA fragment analysis, Genome Wide Association Analysis, linkage analysis, and SNP genotyping (Illumina iScan) whole sequence data analysis (Illumina GAIIx). He is also coordinating the Animal Genetic Sector of the Genomic and Bioinformatics Platform of the University of Milan and of Filarete Foundation.


The project “Genetic basis of resilience in cattle” aims at identifying molecular indicators of whole animal resilience phenotypes and disclosing their genetic control in a specialised dairy breed, the Holstein, and in a dual purpose one, the Valdostana Red Pied. Resilience can be defined as the ability of an animal to cope with environmental short-term perturbations and return rapidly, after a wide range of disruptive challenges, to normal state. 
gorla 3We will focus in particular on the transition period, a recurring physiological stressful challenge in milking cow. Metabolites profiles are nowadays easy to measure and low cost and they will be used in this study as indicators or proxies of resilience.
The genetic control of variability of resilience traits and of its metabolic indicators will be assessed using dense SNP markers information.
Resilience is economically relevant in animal farming and its genetic improvement requires a phenotypic measure that is low cost, large scale and easy to collect. The outcomes of the project will be useful for breeders associations to improve selection for resilience in dairy and dual purpose cattle.


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