Genome mapping offers 'huge' potential for cattle breeding

CANADA - Scientists say that the dawn of a new era of vastly improved cattle breeding has arrived with the recent mapping of the bovine genome -- the cow’s entire set of genetic information.
calendar icon 6 February 2007
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The bovine genome-sequencing project was conducted over the last three years by an international consortium of research organizations, including Genome Canada. Herefords were used for the bulk of the sequencing. Holstein, Angus, Jersey, Limousin, Norwegian Red and Brahman cows were also investigated to determine specific genetic differences between breeds.

In the past 50 years, the performance of dairy cattle and the quality and yield of beef cattle has improved dramatically as breeding became a science, says Dr. Stephen Moore, a professor of bovine genomics at the University of Alberta. "A huge amount of work has been done on indices of performance. Farmers have applied them to their breeding strategies and made huge gains."

However, now that every gene in the cow has been mapped, breeding will no longer contain any significant guesswork, says Moore. Geneticists who mapped the genome predict that cattle breeding could improve as much in the next 50 years as it has in the last 8,000 years. “Now that we have the genome sequenced," says Moore, "we can put all the tests [for milk quality and quantity, health, longevity and reproduction] into one big assay.”

Source: Better Farming

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