A partial load of bull

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  • Published: Jul 13, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Chemometrics & Informatics / MRI Spectroscopy / Infrared Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / Proteomics / NMR Knowledge Base / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Atomic / Base Peak / Raman

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The full genomes from 234 cattle have been reported as the first data in the 1000 Bull Genome Project that is designed to improve animal health and welfare, as well as productivity. The final results should help accelerate genetic improvement among the breeds and produce animals that give improved meat and milk yields.

Scientists from seven countries were involved in the sequencing of 129 cattle from the global Holstein-Friesian population, 43 Fleckvieh and 15 Jersey cattle which were regarded as "“key ancestors" carrying the majority of the genetic variations within each breed. A further 47 Angus cattle were also sequenced and, although they were not key ancestors, they were expected to a significant proportion of the genetic variations. All apart from 2 of the 234 were bulls.

A grand total of 28.3 million variants were identified as discussed in Nature Genetics and further information can be accessed at the 1000 bull genome project.

The new data allowed the research team to identify several mutations which affect animal health. For instance, a single thymine-to-cytosine switch that substitutes a phenylalanine group by serine was confirmed as the initiator of embryonic loss. A second mutation that causes lethal chondrodysplasia was unearthed and a third region associated with early-lactation milk content was isolated.

Two further mutations associated with a curly coat were isolated. Although cattle with curly hair sound amusing, this is a serious condition because the cattle are more heavily infested with ticks and parasites.

The mutations were identified rapidly and can be incorporated into breeding programs to eliminate diseases and increase milk production. Soon "millions of cattle worldwide will be measured for complex traits and genotyped for SNP panels. The pedigree structure of cattle populations makes it possible to impute a full genome sequence for each of these genotyped individuals and to thus provide a discovery population with millions of animals, each with a genome sequence," said the team.

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