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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: How will genomics research impact livestock production in the future?

Author
item Kappes, Steven

Submitted to: Proceedings of International Symposium on Frontiers of Veterinary Medicine, Mexico City, Mexico, August 14-16, 2003.
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 18, 2003
Publication Date: August 13, 2003
Citation: Kappes, S.M. 2003. How will genomics research impact livestock production in the future? Proceedings of International Symposium on Frontiers of Veterinary Medicine, Mexico City, Mexico, August 14-16, 2003. pp. 35-41. CD-ROM.

Technical Abstract: Man has improved livestock production for hundreds of years by selection and improving the environment where the animals are grown. The result has been an increase in growth rate, meat quality and quantity, and milk and egg production. Breeds, strains or lines of farm animals have been developed by selecting for different traits in many different environments. Additional tools to understand and improve genetic control of production traits are being developed with genomics research, the study of the structure and function of the genome. Farm animal genomics research was still in its infancy in the early 1990's when efforts began to develop genetic linkage maps for each chromosome in cattle, pigs, sheep, and chickens (Barendese et al., 1994; Bishop et al., 1994; Crawford et al., 1994; Ellegren et al., 1994; Rohrer et al., 1994; Cheng et al., 1995). Today, a number of DNA markers for carcass traits and animal health traits in cattle, stress susceptibility and reproduction in pigs, and coat color in a number of species are available for the industry. However, the amount of genetic variation that is explained by the DNA markers for carcass and reproductive traits is small. The research communities have realized that we need to develop additional research tools and information to fully utilize the potential of genomics research for agriculture. International research communities have collaborated to develop different types of physical maps and initiate sequencing of farm animal genomes. Physical maps of the cow and chicken have been initiated and a similar map for pigs is being pursued. The chicken genome is currently being sequenced, most of the funding appears to be available to sequence the cow genome, and the international pig research community is organizing an effort to sequence the pig genome. The public availability of the farm animal genome sequences will ensure that the information will be used world-wide to advance animal production. Efficient use of DNA marker information will require that it is integrated with current genetic selection programs. Genomics research will not only provide additional tools to improve selection accuracy, but also enable selection on traits that are difficult to measure or cost prohibitive to collect in the production system. Lowly heritable traits, like reproduction, are excellent candidates for genomic research because current selection tools are not very effective for improving the trait. Genomics research provides many opportunities by dissecting the genetics of production traits and identifying the genes that influence these traits. A tremendous amount of information will be used from the human health research community and farm animal genomics will provide valuable information to biomedical research. Genetic selection will be an obvious use of DNA marker information, but the greatest benefit may be matching the environment and genetics to obtain the desired product at a low cost. Genomic research will help the future livestock producer have a profitable farm that does not have a negative impact on the environment and does not require the use of antibiotics.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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