Animals in focus
After many years of research on the natural behaviour of pigs and its relevance for their welfare, I shifted focus in the 90ies and started working on domestication and behaviour genetics. The chicken - the most numerous domestic animal in the world - became my new study object. Later, I also started working with dogs, the species that more than any other has evolved for a life with humans. Together with PhD-students and other colleagues, I study the genetic and epigenetic foundations of the changes that the behaviour has undergone during thousands of years of coexistence with people.
My research group has a amazing basis with respect to animals and facilities. Our hatchery and chicken unit provides us with full control over all aspects of the scientific process, from breeding and hatching, via rearing, to our labs that are fully equipped for advanced behaviour studies and documentation. On top of that we have a well designed physiology lab allowing different types of measurements and surgery. All this is combined with a world class molecular lab.
We are also one of the few labs in the world that keep a breeding population of red junglefowl, the wild ancestor of the chicken. That gives us possibilities to breed different crosses and to conduct direct comparative genetic studies on the ancestor and its domesticated descendants. And we have a broad collaboration with hundreds of private dog owners across the country, who let us study their pets and happily offer us a small amount of DNA from their companions.
Together with Professor Linda Keeling at SLU, I currently coordinate the Center of Excellence in Animal Welfare Science, a nationwide research network. My research group, is part of Linköping University's System Neurobiology Network and we have a number of ongoing collaborations with researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. This has generated emerging projects towards human applications and given us unique inroads towards translational research.
- Professor Linda Keeling, SLU – animal welfare science.
- Professor Leif Andersson, Uppsala University – genetics and genomics.
- Professor Jonas Bergquist, Uppsala University – hormone measurements.
- Professor Elena Jazin, Uppsala University – behaviour epigenetics.
- Professor Markus Heilig, Linköping University - stress and neurobiology.