To meet preferences and needs of consumers for animal products, livestock and poultry are produced in a wide array of environments and management systems. Insufficient quantitative and genomic characterization of existing resources compromises efficiency of production across eco-regions of the U.S. and limits optimal use of feed resources and response to diseases. Losses in production efficiency from genotype by environment interactions and gene by gene interactions must be better understood to respond to these challenges and increase profitability. Existing genetic resources provide producers with numerous options that can be tailored to meet future demands. However, several of these resources are at risk of being lost, even before they are adequately characterized. Emerging conservation efforts require a wide range of information and analytical tools.
Increase competitiveness of livestock and poultry industries through characterization and conservation of genetic resources.
Improve production efficiency and quality of livestock and poultry products and to conserve genetic resources at risk of being lost.
Increase profitability for U. S. livestock producers in diverse production environments, and reduce costs and increase quality of food for consumers.
Enhance response to changes in consumer preferences and societal standards.
USDA-ARS National Programs: 103 Animal Health; 104 Arthropod Pests of Animals: 108 Food Safety
Other Agencies and Departments: USDA/ CSREES, APHIS, Foreign Agriculture Service, The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Food and Agricultural Organization, U.S. Fish Wildlife Service
Colorado State University, Purdue University, University of Missouri, Virginia Tech, and University of California.
Private Sector: ESVA Agisternoia Veterinaria, American Minor Breed Conservancy, Gensel Biotechnology, Inc., University of Guelph, International Brangus Breeders Association, and World Bank.
II. PROBLEMS TO BE ADDRESSED
Characterizing Genetic Resources
Defining characteristics within and between breed (strain, line) and between species in multiple production environments is a key element to efficiently and profitably meet consumer demand for livestock and poultry products. Effects of individual genes and gene combinations need to be related to animal performance across production systems and in response to disease challenge.
1. Quantify genetic variation and genetic distance between and within breeds or strains.
2. Identify phenotypic and molecular differences between breeds and strains for economically important traits.
3. Determine how breed performance is altered by changes in environment or management system.
1. Sample and characterize in situ livestock and poultry genetic resources by quantitative analysis and molecular experimentation.
2. Evaluate breeds and strains for economical relevant traits including disease resistance, environmental tolerance, and adaptation to production systems.
3. Elucidate gene function, and interactions among genes, identify novel genes, and characterize allelic variation.
4. Use point mutation and molecular evaluation technologies to generate new DNA sequences with novel functions.
1. Increase profitability through increased understanding of genetic characteristics at the phenotypic and molecular levels.
2. Recommend to industry how to use diverse genetic resources in diverse production systems and environments and maintain genetic diversity.
Beltsville, MD; Brooksville, FL; Clay Center, NE; El Reno, OK; Fort Collins, CO; Miles City, MT; East Lansing, MI; Dubois, ID.
Conserving and Preserving Genetic Resources
Shifts in consumer demand and protection of livestock from disease challenges can be addressed if there is genetic diversity from which to choose. Currently, the U.S. has genetic resources that are at risk of being lost. Equally or more importantly the rate of inbreeding is increasing within breeds and strains of livestock and poultry. This increase in inbreeding is lowers overall fitness and reduces genetic variation.
1. A secure repository of semen, embryos, oocytes, DNA, and tissue for potential use by industry and research.
2. Strategies for regenerating lost or endangered genetic resources.
3. Preserve genetically diverse reference populations of livestock and poultry are important.
1. Survey genetic resources and assess the potential for genetic resources to be at risk of being lost.
2. Develop criteria for preserving genetic differences across populations.
3. Develop quality controls for germplasm entering the repository systems.
4. Maintain designated live animal populations, gametes, embryos and/or cells.
5. Develop strategies for re-establishing lost or endangered genetic resources.
1. Quantify the status of the nation’s animal genetic resources.
2. Collect and preserve genetically diverse germplasm.
3. Methods to reintroduce cryopreserved germplasm.
Beltsville, MD; Brooksville, FL; Clay Center, NE; El Reno, OK; Fort Collins, CO; Miles City, MT; East Lansing, MI.
Genetic composition and performance must be integrated to fully understand the status and potential use of genetic populations. As germplasm collections increase, a critical need exists to develop databases capable of monitoring inventory (within and across locations), germplasm viability tests, and key genetic and phenotypic parameters associated with germplasm stored in the repository system.
1. Inventory of preserved germplasm and breed populations in the U. S. electronically linked to international information.
2. Evaluate genetic resources using information on breed performance related to production systems.
3. Develop software to assist in evaluating economic worth of genetic resources, determining genetic relationships among animals, and planning mating strategies.
1. Develop decision support tools coupling genetic and economic methodology that enables industry and scientists to assess risk of losing genetic resources and to manage genetic diversity within a breed.
2. Develop databases to combine inventories of cryopreserved germplasm, scientific information on breeds and inventories of breed populations.
3. Develop information systems capable of evaluating changes in population demographics, differences in production systems and genetic by environmental interactions.
1. A database capable of determining the status of germplasm stored in repositories and linked to breed demographics.
2. A decision support tool for industry and genetic resource managers to use to evaluate the status of a population and to make decisions concerning maintenance or enhancement of genetic diversity.
3. An information system for tracking breed population trends over time and environments to interface with environmental and production variables.
Fort Collins, CO; Clay Center, NE; Beltsville, MD