Metzger Lab - Veterinary Functional Genomics

Metzger Lab

Head of working group:

Prof. Dr. Julia Metzger

Contents of our research

Our research group focuses on the variation and architecture of the genome and its functional elements. We utilize intriguing mammalian models, such as pigs, to investigate the underlying mechanisms of growth and skeletal development. In doing so, we integrate OMICs data obtained through high-throughput sequencing with cellular and molecular phenotypes from in vitro studies.

This fundamental research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms for complex qualitative phenotypes, such as organism growth, and to elucidate the causes of skeletal-related disorders in the future

Research projects

Latest research projects (Selection; DFG projects: see DFG GEPRIS) in functional genomics


Growth & Disease

  • MEASURE: Multi-omics studies for body size in the animal model – the genetic architecture of pig body size  (DFG-Heisenberg-Studie)
  • 3D-DRIVE: Dynamic 3D genome reorganization of porcine growth
  • SKIP: Functional analysis of skeleton-modifying genes and interactive gene expression networks
  • SPAID-research: Functional studies for Shar-Pei Autoinflammatory Disease (see here)

Genomstruktur & Evolution

  • WORMICs: 3D Genomics of the mealworm
  • Structural variation related to domestication and selection of livestock breeds


A full list of thrid-party funded projects can be found here: TiHo-Datenbank für Forschungsprojekte


Selected Publications


Genome & Selection Signatures:

  • Berghöfer J, Khaveh N, Mundlos S, Metzger J (2022) Simultaneous testing of rule- and model-based approaches for runs of homozygosity detection opens up a window into genomic footprints of selection in pigs. BMC Genomics 23 (1): 1-26. (open access)

Growth Deficiency & Miniaturization:

  • Halecker, S., Metzger, J., Strube, C., Krabben, L., Kaufer, B. & Denner, J. (2021) Virological and Parasitological Characterization of Mini-LEWE Minipigs Using Improved Screening Methods and an Overview of Data on Various Minipig Breeds. Microorganisms 9, 9122617.
  • Schachler K, Minx J-O, Sürie C, Distl O, Metzger J. (2020) Genetic characterisation of Mini-LEWE as resource population for experimental research. Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 133, DOI: 10.2376/1439-0299-2020-15
  • Metzger J, Rau J, Naccache F, Bas Conn L, Lindgren G, Distl O. (2018) Genome data uncover four synergistic key regulators for extremely small body size in horses. BMC Genomics 19(1):492. (open access)
  • Metzger J, Gast AC, Schrimpf R, Rau J, Eikelberg D, Beineke A, Hellige M, Distl O (2017) Whole-genome sequencing reveals a potential causal mutation for dwarfism in the Miniature Shetland pony. Mammalian Genome 28, 143-151.
  • Metzger J, Distl O (2020) Book section: Genetics of Equine Orthopedic Disease. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, 36 (2): 289-301, Edited by Carrie J. Finno.

Transcriptome and Multi-OMICs Studies in Pigs & Other Livestock:

  • Khaveh N, Schachler K, Berghöfer J, Jung K, Metzger J (2023) Altered hair root gene expression profiles highlight calcium signaling and lipid metabolism pathways to be associated with curly hair initiation and maintenance in Mangalitza pigs. Frontiers in Genetics, 14: 1184015. (open access)
  • Schachler K, Distl O, Metzger J (2020) Tracing selection signatures in the pig genome gives evidence for selective pressures on a unique curly hair phenotype in Mangalitza. Scientific Reports, 10 (1): 1-12. (open access)
  • Metzger, J, Schrimpf, R, Philipp, U & Distl, O (2013) Expression Levels of LCORL Are Associated with Body Size in Horses. PLoS ONE 8, (open access)

For additional publications, see Google Scholar

Career opportunities

We are always looking for highly motivated scientists with an interest/expertise in the fields of genetics, genomics, stem cell development, and bioinformatic methods.


If you are interested, please send an application (cover letter, resume, recommendation letters from two mentors) as a PDF to: