Cow's genetic code successfully mapped

by Editor
Monday, April 27, 2009

A US$52 million international project to sequence the genetic blueprint of a female Hereford cow will revolutionise the world's dairy and beef cattle industry, according to the University of Adelaide, Australia.

Genome expert Professor David Adelson is one of more than 300 researchers from 25 different countries who have spent six years mapping the bovine genome, the first mammalian livestock animal in the world to be sequenced.

The results of the project are published in a paper today in the internationally prestigious journal Science.

Professor Adelson, Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Genetics at the University's School of Molecular & Biomedical Science, says the genetic sequencing of "Dominette" will pave the way for more sustainable food production around the world.

This would have a significant impact on genetic selection for dairy production, for meat production and for food efficiency, he says.

The authors of the paper say the bovine genome, containing between 22,000 and 26,835 genes, is more similar to that of humans, than mice or rats, although the DNA of cattle chromosomes is rearranged in some areas.

The knowledge gleaned from sequencing a single Hereford cow could lead to more efficient beef and milk production, Professor Adelson says.

He says the cattle and dairy industry will soon be able to use a relatively cheap test, costing several hundred dollars, to assess the genetic potential of their animals at birth.

Professor Adelson started work on the sequencing project in 2003 as a consortium member of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Texas, which has led the international project.