The goal of this introductory chapter is to explain why the animal scientist should read this book. We first argue that systems biology is the future of biology due to its promise to improve prediction. Therefore, systems biology is strongly tied to animal science, especially genetics but also nutrition, physiology, and immunology, where practical application of biological knowledge and predictive approaches are paramount. Secondly, the major components of the field of systems biology are described, showing that the goal of systems biology is to use quantitative models and large datasets to describe and predict biology. In this section, we focus on network models in systems biology, because such models offer one of the most natural ways to represent interactions among large numbers of biological entities, e.g., genes, proteins, metabolites. With the rapid accumulation of high-dimensional data from transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics studies in animal science, network models are becoming increasingly important in the interpretation of experimental data. Consequently, computational tools for construction and analysis of network models are likely to become essential for animal scientists within the foreseeable future. Thirdly, we describe the extent to which systems biology approaches are already being used in several areas of livestock molecular genetics and genomics. As comprehensive datasets on gene, RNA, protein, and metabolite data under many conditions is a starting point for most systems biology approaches, projects that are using such functional genomics data are those most likely to be the first in application of systems biology in animal science. A partial list of important online resources for exploring systems biology approaches is also provided.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)