Genome mapping helps producers
Send a link to a friend
[May 13, 2009]
URBANA -- While the six-year effort that mapped
the bovine genome gains international attention, Illinois beef and
dairy producers have been benefiting from the research for the past
15 years, said Harris Lewin, a University of Illinois professor of
animal sciences whose lab created the high-resolution physical map
of the bovine chromosomes.
"Previous to the publication of the latest success in the
journal Science, we've been steadily producing findings that
directly help producers," he explained. "During that time we've
produced genetic maps that reveal the genes responsible for the
genetic diseases that plague the beef and dairy industries.
"And Jon Beever, a professor here in the Department of Animal
Sciences, has been recognized for his efforts to identify the
genes causing genetic diseases in beef cattle. Those findings
were enabled by the gene maps we've produced."
The latest breakthrough means scientists now have the entire
blueprint of the cow genome.
"With this information in hand, if a genetic disease shows
up, it will only take a matter of weeks, or at most a couple of
months, to find the gene responsible," Lewin said.
"This means we can use this knowledge to further improve
breeds to avoid the genetic diseases by screening for them."
Lewin noted that U of I researchers have been working for
many years with the cattle seed stock industry, with the result
of accelerating genetic improvements.
"Our research has allowed us to quickly identify genes and,
thereby, improve the accuracy of selecting for traits," he said.
"This, in turn, is handed down to producers, who can improve
meat tenderness, marbling and other desirable traits in their
[to top of second column]
As results were produced in the six-year bovine genome mapping
projects, these were shared, at no cost, with genetic researchers
around the world.
"The final results are very beautiful," he said. "Now we have a
genetic map of the origin, domestication and genetic development of
beef and dairy cattle. And because we have that map, we now know how
to utilize various genes to improve cattle."
The University of Illinois portion of the overall project was
funded by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative
State Research, Education and Extension Service and a USDA-CSREES
grant for the Livestock Genome Sequencing Initiative.
[Text from file received from
the University of Illinois at