Maria Ballester

Maria Ballester

AgreenSkills session, year: 1st session, 2014

Receiving laboratory: GABI Animal Genetics and Integrative Biology Jouy-en-Josas, France

Country of origin : Spain




Mobility project

A step beyond dissecting the genetic architecture of immunity traits in swine: toward identification of Quantitative Trait Nucleotides (QTNs).

Genetic selection for health traits has emerged as a challenging trend in livestock breeding. Immunity traits (ITs) parameters measured in healthy animals may be considered as biologically relevant parameters to estimate immunocompetence. In the present project, interdisciplinary and state-of-the-art computational methodologies will be used to integrate heterogeneous data including phenotypic variation of a large range of ITs, SNP polymorphisms and blood transcriptome analysis recorded from Large White pig cohorts at INRA. The aim of the project will be to identify and functionally validate potential causal mutations influencing the phenotypic diversity of ITs in pigs. The expected results will represent an important step forward on understanding the genetic control of immunity in swine and provide insights into a better management of health status in farms.

Biography & research interests

After obtaining my degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2000 at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), I developed my research career in different fields ranging from basic to practical research that enabled me to become a multidisciplinary researcher.

In January 2001 I started my doctorate studies in the Animal Production programme at the Department of Animal and Food Sciences of UAB with a PhD fellowship FI (Catalan Government). In June 2006 I was granted with a postdoctoral fellowship Beatriu de Pinós from AGAUR (Catalan Government) to do a postdoctoral stay in the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in Jouy en Josas (France). In January 2008 I incorporated at the Research Centre on Animal Health (CReSA) in Barcelona with a postdoctoral contract Juan de la Cierva (MICCIN, Spanish Government). From January 2012 to June 2014, I worked in the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) with a postdoctoral contract in the research group of Dr Josep M. Folch.

The recent advances in livestock animal genomics and the development of new molecular genetics approaches provide unprecedented capacities to identify causal mutations affecting quantitative trait loci underlying economically important traits in livestock species.

My research interests are related to identify, characterize and functional validate genetic variants influencing the phenotypic diversity of important economical traits in pigs using state-of-the-art genetics, genomics and bioinformatics methodologies.

Selected publications

1-J. Corominas, J.A.P. Marchesi, A. Puig-Oliveras, M. Revilla, J. Estellé, E. Alves, J.M. Folch, M. Ballester. Epigenetic regulation of the ELOVL6 gene is associated with a major QTL effect on fatty acid composition in pigs. Genetics Selection Evolution, vol. 47: 20, 2015 (DOI:10.1186/s12711-015-0111-y) *Highly accessed

2-A. Puig-Oliveras, M. Ballester, J. Corominas, M. Revilla, J. Estellé, A.I. Fernández, Y. Ramayo-Caldas, J.M. Folch. A Co-Association Network Analysis of the Genetic Determination of Pig Conformation, Growth and Fatness. PLoS ONE, 9(12): e114862. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114862, 2014

3-A. Puig-Oliveras, Y. Ramayo-Caldas, J. Corominas, J. Estellé, D. Pérez, N. Hudson, J. Casellas, J.M. Folch, M. Ballester. Differences in Muscle Transcriptome among Pigs Phenotypically Extreme for Fatty Acid Composition. PLoS ONE, vol. 9(6): e99720. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099720, 2014

4-Y. Ramayo-Caldas, M. Ballester, M. R. S. Fortes, A. Esteve-Codina, A. Castelló, J.L. Noguera, A.I. Fernández, M. Pérez-Enciso, A. Reverter, J. M. Folch. From SNP co-association to gene co-expression: Evidence of pleiotropic expression-QTL in lipid metabolism in pigs. BMC Genomics, vol. 15: 232, 2014

5-J. Corominas, Y. Ramayo-Caldas, A. Puig-Oliveras, J. Estellé, A. Castelló, E. Alves, R.N. Pena, M. Ballester and J.M. Folch. Analysis of porcine adipose tissue transcriptome reveals differences in de novo fatty acid synthesis in pigs with divergent muscle fatty acid composition. BMC Genomics, vol. 14: 843, 2013

6-M Ballester, R. Cordón, and J.M. Folch. DAG Expression: high-throughput gene expression analysis of Real Time PCR data using standard curves for relative quantification. PLoS ONE, 8(11): e80385. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080385, 2013J. Corominas, Y. Ramayo-Caldas, A. Puig, D. Pérez-Montarelo, J.L. Noguera, J.M. Folch and M. Ballester. Polymorphism in the ELOVL6 gene is associated with a major QTL effect on fatty acid composition in pigs. PLoS ONE, 8(1): e53687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053687, 2013

7-M. Ballester, A. Castelló, R. Peiró, M.J. Argente, M.A. Santacreu and J.M Folch. Identification of differentially expressed genes in the oviduct of two rabbit lines divergently selected for uterine capacity using suppression subtractive hybridization. Animal Genetics, vol. 44(3): 296-304, 2013

8-J. Corominas, Y. Ramayo, A. Castelló, M. Muñoz, N. Ibáñez-Escriche, J.M Folch and M. Ballester. Evaluation of the porcine acyl-CoA synthetase long-chain 4 gene (ACSL4) as candidate gene for meat quality traits in pigs. Animal Genetics, vol. 43(6):714-720, 2012

9-M. Ballester, C. Rodríguez-Cariño, M. Pérez, C. Gallardo, J.M. Rodríguez, M.L. Salas and F. Rodríguez. Disruption of Nuclear Organization during the Initial Phase of African Swine Fever Virus Infection. Journal of Virology, vol. 85:8263-9, 2011

10-M. Ballester, I. Galindo, C. Gallardo, J.M. Argilaguet, J. Segalés, J.M. Rodríguez and F. Rodríguez. Intranuclear detection of African swine fever virus (ASFV) DNA in several cell-types from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues using a new in situ hybridisation (ISH) protocol. Journal of Virological Methods, vol. 168:38-43, 2010

11-M. Ballester, C. Kress, C. Hue-Beauvais, K. Kiêu, G. Lehmann, P. Adenot and E. Devinoy. The nuclear localization of WAP and CSN genes is modified by lactogenic hormones in HC11 cells. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, vol. 105:262-270, 2008

12-M. Ballester, A. Sánchez, J. Santaló, J.M. Folch and E. Ibáñez. Expression of recombinant human follicle-stimulating hormone in the mammary gland of transgenic mice. Molecular Biotechnology, vol. 34:37-44, 2006

13-M. Ballester, J. Molist, M. López-Bejar, A. Sánchez, J. Santaló, J.M. Folch and E. Ibáñez. Disruption of the mouse phospholipase C-b1 gene in a b-lactoglobulin transgenic line affects viability, growth, and fertility in mice. Gene, vol. 341, pp. 279-289, 2004

14-M. Ballester, A. Castelló, E. Ibañez, A. Sánchez and J.M. Folch. Real-time quantitative PCR-based system for determining transgene copy number in transgenic animals. Biotechniques, vol. 37, pp. 610-613, 2004