ARS Launches Animal Genetic
By Kathryn Barry
June 28, 2000
Chicken semen is the first animal
germplasm at ARS National Animal Germplasm Program located at the ARS
Seed Storage Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colo.
The laboratory, opened in 1958, provides long-term storage of seeds and
other reproductive plant material, known as germplasm. Today the location
routinely houses nearly 360,000 samples from about 5,000 crop species and their
Germplasm--including semen, embryos and other tissues--from cattle, swine,
poultry, sheep, goats and fish will also be stored at the site. As with the
plants, this collection will serve as an insurance policy against loss of
working collections stored at other locations.
Scientists and breeders use animal germplasm to locate genes that confer
disease resistance, develop breeds that better withstand environmental
conditions, or improve characteristics important to consumers.
Researchers with the new program are also developing a comprehensive
database that will allow users to compare the primary characteristics between
the animal breeds and to evaluate these breeds for genetic merit across varying
environments and production systems. A warning component will alert researchers
to the potential loss of a specific breed or genetic resource. A
decision-making framework will help researchers and producers determine the
best way to preserve that resource.
ARS Avian Disease and Oncology
Laboratory in East Lansing, Mich., provided the chicken semen. Scientists
there developed 34 breeding lines of chickens with varying degrees of genetic
resistance to viral-induced lymphoid tumors.
The chickens were used to help researchers understand genetic resistance to
tumors and to test the efficacy of Mareks disease vaccines. The East
Lansing laboratory began storing cryopreserved chicken semen in 1984 and will
continue to maintain at least half of the samples from each line.
ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contacts: Harvey Blackburn, ARS National Seed Storage
Laboratory, Fort Collins, Colo., phone (970) 495-3200, fax (970) 221-1427,
Larry Bacon, ARS Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory, East Lansing, Mich.,
phone (517) 337-6828, fax (517) 337-6776, email@example.com.