Marking Out the Future of Beef Genetics

AUSTRALIA - DNA technologies are beginning to change the way breeding animals are genetically selected and might soon determine how production animals are managed to better meet specific market requirements.
calendar icon 9 July 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

The technologies themselves have rapidly changed over the past decade, and this has forced changes in understanding by both the research community and livestock industry.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies (CRC) recently published a document developed by the key research groups responsible for developing and commercialising DNA marker technologies in Australia.

They say that the document represents their collective understanding and the likely implications of recent findings from a number of research projects including the “Collaborative Research and Commercialisation Agreement” (the CRA) projects, the “SmartGene Project”, Beef CRC research and other research activities in the field, to inform public comment on DNA markers for the Australian beef industry.

The research and development results they found pointed to the belief that DNA markers with large effects will be the exception rather than the rule for most production traits.

The document also reveals that the most technical experts in the field of animal genetics now recommend that all markers be incorporated into the national genetic evaluation system (e.g. BREEDPLAN) so that their effects can be estimated accurately. Work to progress this is proceeding, and the first direct result of this will be seen in BREEDPLAN EBVs for Tenderness.

Utilisation of markers by industry, including inclusion into BREEDPLAN EBVs, will require estimates of the value and utility of any new markers that come onto the Australian market. These estimates will likely be updated from time to time, as occurs with traditional EBVs.

They say that as DNA technology develops, it is likely that markers will be used in combinations (known as “panels”). Under this circumstance, the statistical significance of individual markers will be less important than that of the combined effect of a panel of markers when used for either breeding or management decisions.

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