Inicio de sesión
Animal breeding

Animal breeding

Our department is specialized in carrying out research and knowledge transfer activities to optimize genetic improvement programs in livestock and aquaculture species and conservation of native breeds.

Cristina Ovilo Martín


​jefa departamento


​Ctra. de La Coruña, km 7,5, 28040 Madrid


The main activities of our department are focused on the genetic improvement of livestock and aquaculture species and the conservation of native Spanish breeds. For these goals, we combine our experience in classical quantitative genetics with the latest genome analysis technologies.

In particular, the new -omics technologies, which include high-throughput genotyping, gene expression, massive sequencing and metabolome platforms, generate information that allows a much more detailed and accurate analysis of the genetic and metabolic basis of those traits that are important to improve or to conserve.

Productivity, efficiency, animal welfare and resilience to climate change and diseases are key characteristics for the sector, representing the basis of our research.

Molecular biology labs are available at the department, as well as access to supercomputing resources. The department has the facilities and animals conserved at “El Encín" farm (Alcalá de Henares) and the Center for Research and Development on Iberian Pig (Zafra). Besides, INIA also owns the Iberian pig herd maintained at the farm “Dehesón del Encinar" (Oropesa, Toledo).


Our research lines are grouped into four thematic areas, which include:

  • Quantitative genetics of complex traits. Study of the genetic basis of complex traits of interest in animal production, through the development and application of analysis, prediction and modelling methods.
  • Genetics of conservation. Design and implementation of programs to maintain genetic variability and control the increase in inbreeding.
  • Functional genomics. Study of the mechanisms of gene regulation involved in the development, production and adaptation of animals.
  • Metagenomics. Improvement of production efficiency based on the study of the host's microbiota.
  • ​Research lines:

    • Optimization of the design and management of breeding and conservation programs, combining classical quantitative genetic tools with molecular information.
    • Incorporation of new traits to animal genetic improvement schemes.
    • Genetic mapping and detection of QTL and candidate genes for productive, reproductive and adaptive and resilience traits.
    • Patterns of gene expression related to phenotypic, genetic or environmental characteristics.
    • Development of statistical methodology for genomic evaluation and its application in livestock and aquaculture.
    • Nutritional genomics: Interactions between diet, gene expression, genotype and phenotype.
    • Traceability of racial origin.
    • Control of inbreeding and of the loss of genetic variability in selection and conservation programs.
    • Production of eggs of quality in indigenous breeds of chickens as an alternative to industrial production.
    • Identification of indicators of animal welfare and stress tolerance.
    • Theoretical and practical evaluation of the consequences of selection for productive traits on animal fitness and welfare.
    • Relationship of the microbiota with productive aspects and environmental sustainability.​


​The department has five molecular biology laboratories with equipment for extraction and quantification of nucleic acids, PCR and quantitative PCR and long-read sequencers with Nanopore technology. Given the huge amount of genomic data generated in our projects, we have access to resources for bioinformatic analysis through the Center for Supercomputing of Galicia (CESGA). The facilities linked to the department include “El Encín" Poultry Farm (Alcalá de Henares), where birds of native breeds are raised and maintained, and the Center for Research and Development in Iberian Pig (Zafra), where we develop tasks related with genetic improvement, food quality, traceability and determination of the breed origin in this pig breed.

El Encín Poultry Farm

​Conservation and genetic study of traditional Spanish chicken breeds.

National Center for Research and Development of the Iberian Pig Genetic improvement of Iberian pig breed with special attention to meat quality.​​

  • Jesús Fernández
    Carrying out the genetic management of a selection programme in the population of Penaeus vannamei in Nicaragua - Bajamar Séptima, Sociedad Anónima (Grupo Pescanova)
    2015 - 2016 |
  • Jesús Fernández
    Carrying out the genetic management of a selection programme in the population of Penaeus vannamei in Ecuador - Bajamar Séptima, Sociedad Anónima (Grupo Pescanova)
    2015 - 2016 |
  • Jesús Fernández
    Design and development of a genetic selection plan to improve production in sole (Solea senagalensis) - Safiestela S.A.
    2015 - 2016 | CON15-179
  • Jesús Fernández
    Implementation and management of genetic selection of the shrimp breeding programme of the National Aquaculture Group
    2020 - 2023 | NAQUA
  • Jesús Fernández
    Management and analysis of diversity in structured populations in the fields of conservation of genetic resources and animal breeding: Theoretical studies - MICINN
    2010 - 2012 | CGL2009-13278-C02-02
  • Beatriz Villanueva
    Use of genomic tools for the conservation of the Iberian pig - MICINN
    2010 - 2014 | RZ2010-00009-00-00
  • Jesús Fernández
    Genetic selection programme to improve the production of seabream and seabass at the ABSA S.A.U.
    2011 - 2013 | CDTI
  • Beatriz Villanueva
    Productive characterization and conservation in Uruguayan Creole sheep - FAO
    2013 - 2015 | CI14-023
  • Beatriz Villanueva
    Estimation of the impact of selection and inbreeding on genetic diversity using genomic tools: Applications in animal breeding and conservation - MINECO
    2013 - 2015 | CGL2012-39861-C02-02
  • Jesús Fernández
    Biotechnological advances in the reproduction, genetics and health of sole - CDTI
    2015 - 2018 | IDI-20150906
  • María Saura
    Optimal design of the Galician Atlantic salmon conservation programme using genomic tools - MINECO
    2013 - 2016 | RZ2012-00011-C02
  • Jesús Fernández
    Genetic selection programme for the improvement of growth in seabream (Sparus aurata, L.); evaluation of genetic progress achieved
    2014 - 2017 | CDTI
  • Beatriz Villanueva
    Improving European aquaculture by advancing selective breeding to the next level for the six main finfish species - Unión Europea (FP7)
    2014 - 2019 | FISHBOOST
  • Jesús Fernández
    Analysis and control of molecular inbreeding and coancestry in the management of genetic resources for conservation and animal breeding - MINECO
    2017 - 2020 | CGL2016-75904-C2-2
  • Beatriz Villanueva
    Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development - Unión Europea (H2020)
    2017 - 2021 | MedAID
  • Miriam Ayuso Hernando
    Efectos nutricionales y genéticos sobre la adipogénesis en el cerdo ibérico (2015)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Angel Mario Martínez Montes
    Aplicación de métodos de secuenciación paralela masiva y genómica al estudio de variantes génicas que regulan: crecimiento, conformación y calidad de carne en cerdo (2017)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Marta Vázquez Gómez
    Strategies to mitigate within-litter birth-weight variation and its deletereous consequences on developmental pattern and meat production in Iberian pigs (2018)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Rita Benítez Yañez
    Nutrigenómica en cerdo ibérico. Influencia de factores nutricionales sobre la expresión génica y la composición tisular en cerdo ibérico (2019)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Consolación García Contreras
    Structural and functional genomic factors influencing prenatal growth, postnatal development and meat production in Iberian pigs (2020)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Miguel Ángel Fernández Barroso
    Aplicación de nuevas tecnologías ómicas y de fenotipado en programas de selección para calidad de carne en cerdos Ibéricos de montanera
    Dirección: Universidad de Extremadura
  • Adrián López García
    Incorporación de la información metagenómica para explicar la expresión fenotípica de los caracteres productivos y su interacción con el animal hospedador (En curso)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Ana de las Heras
    Factores individuales y nutricionales que determinan la homogeneidad y los rendimientos productivos en porcino ibérico (En curso)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Alejandro Saborio Montero
    Estudio del control genético del hospedador sobre la microbiota ruminal en vacuno lechero
    Dirección: Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (defensa Julio 2021)
  • Edgar Reinoso
    Estimación del impacto de la consanguinidad del huésped sobre la diversidad y abundancia de la microbiota de los tractos reproductivos en ovino
    Dirección: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (en curso)
  • Adrián López Garcia
    Uso de datos de microbioma para explicar la expresión de caracteres productivos en especies domésticas
  • Judit Salces Ortiz
    Estudio de la función y regulación del gen ovino HSP90AA1. Pulling the DNA thread: exploring in depth the regulation and role of the ovine HSP90AA1 gene. Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (CC. Biológicas)
  • Ane Marcos Carcavilla
    Estudio estructural y funcional de genes candidatos, alternativos al PRNP, como posibles moduladores de la respuesta a scrapie en ovino. Facultad de Biología
    Dirección: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Silvia García-Ballesteros García
    Optimisation of aquaculture improvement programmes, using genomic tools (in progress)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Elisabeth Morales González
    Analysis and control of genomic coancestry for the management of genetic resources in conservation and genetic improvement programmes (in progress)
    Dirección: Universidad Politécnica de Valencia
  • Edgar L Reinoso Peláez
    Study of the metagenome of the reproductive tracts and determination of its role in the reproductive efficiency of the ovine species (in progress)
    Dirección: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
  • Daniel Kleinman Ruiz
    From genetics to genomics in the conservation of the Iberian lynx (2020)
    Dirección: Universidad de Sevilla
  • Tiago Fernandes
    Optimisation of selection programmes in aquaculture (2020)
    Dirección: Universidad de Cádiz
  • Fernando Gómez Romano
    Managing genetic diversity in conservation programmes using high density marker panels (2015)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Lara Covelo
    Role of DNA methylation in the control of development and genomic stability in two anadromous fish species (Petromyzus marinus y Salmo trutta) (2015)
    Dirección: Universidad de Vigo
  • Carmen Amador Arranz
    Population management strategies to reverse exogenous gene introgression (2012)
    Dirección: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Jean Paul Lhorente
    Evaluation of specific and joint genetic resistance to pathogens Caligus rogercresseyi and Piscirickettsia salmonis in Atlantic salmon (2012)
    Dirección: Universidad de Chile
  • • Procedimiento de utilización del alelo Rasa oviaragón del gen Bone Morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) para le mejora de la prolificidad y la detección de infertilidades en ovino
    Patente | P200703169
  • Procedimiento de Predicción de Dureza de la Carne de Ganado Bovino
    Patente | P201231520

​Services and Resources

    • Asesoramiento sobre el diseño y gestión de programas de mejora genética en especies ganaderas y de acuicultura
    • Asesoramiento sobre el diseño y gestión de programas de conservación en poblaciones animales amenazadas
    • Trazabilidad de origen racial (Ibérico, Duroc) en animales y productos porcinos mediante marcadores genéticos
    • Caracterización del microbioma animal
    • Suministro de ejemplares de un día de razas autóctonas de gallinas​

Este sitio web utiliza cookies propias y de terceros para su funcionamiento y con el fin de analizar las páginas más visitadas. Puede aceptar o rechazar nuestras cookies haciendo clic en los botones a continuación o visitando nuestra página de política de cookies. Se aplica una opción predeterminada de 'no consentimiento' en caso de que no se haga una elección y un rechazo no limitará su experiencia de usuario. Si desea obtener más información sobre nuestra política de cookies, haga clic en el botón "Más información" a continuación.