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Cracking the bovine genome code

Cracking the bovine genome code

UC Davis receives funding for livestock genetics research

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Researchers at the University of California, Davis are trying to to understand specific characteristics of the bovine genome.

Pablo Ross, an associate professor in UC Davis’ animal science department, will lead USDA-funded research (US$2.5 million over four years) to uncover what the sequence means.

“The bovine genome is made up of about three billion letters,” Ross told Farms.com today. “But we’ve never been able to understand much of what those letters mean. This research will help us translate that alphabet and find the most important parts of the bovine genome sequence.”

Scientists from the USDA and the National Institutes of Health sequenced the genome of a female Hereford cow in 2009.

The Bovine Genome Database, an online source based at the University of Missouri, released updates to the sequences in 2015 and again earlier this year.

 Discovering which parts of a cow’s genomic makeup are responsible for certain characteristics could bring important benefits to the cattle industry, Ross said.

“If we can find the regulatory elements (within the cow) that cause disease resistance, growth, meat production and fertility, we might be able to help develop better breeding programs,” he said.

The USDA is also supporting genomics research for the other two main types of livestock. Iowa State University received a grant for swine genetics, and the Western University of Health Sciences in Ponoma, Calif. received funding to study chicken genomics.

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