Submitted to: International Journal of Biological Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 25, 2007
Publication Date: February 10, 2007
Citation: Green, R.D., Qureshi, M.A., Long, J.A., Burfening, P.J., Hamernik, D.L. 2007. Identifying the future needs for long-term usda efforts in agricultural animal genomics. International Journal of Biological Sciences. 3:185-191.
Interpretive Summary: Recently, the agricultural research community has been able to capitalize on the infrastructure built by the human genome project by sequencing two of the major livestock genomes (Gallus domesticus and Bos taurus). The 2005 calendar year is truly unprecedented in the history of agricultural animal research since annotated draft genome sequences will be completed for chickens and cattle with sequencing set to begin for swine in early 2006. We now have in place the foundation of a powerful toolbox for understanding the genetic variation underlying economically important and complex phenotypes.
In response to a request by USDA Undersecretary Joe Jen, a new Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Domestic Animal Genomics was chartered in September of 2002 by the U.S. National Science and Technology Council with the mission of enhancing communication and awareness of the importance of livestock and companion animal species of importance to the food and agriculture system; increasing leverage of Federal investments in large-scale genome sequencing and genome analysis across government agencies; positioning the food and agriculture system as a critical element of the national genomics program; enhancing dialogue and cooperation among Federal agencies, universities, and industry in the nation; and promoting international cooperation on domestic animal genomics research. The charge was given by the IWG to the USDA to evaluate how programs should be developed further to allow full utilization of annotated genome sequences and associated tools. A workshop entitled “Charting the Road Map for Long Term USDA Efforts in Agricultural Animal Genomics” was convened by the USDA in Washington, DC in September of 2004. This workshop clearly identified a number of areas that need significant programmatic and funding attention within the USDA research infrastructure for this potential to be realized in a timely manner. Opportunities appear to exist and should be explored further for leveraging of future efforts with other Federal programs, given the wealth of genotypic and phenotypic information catalogued on pedigreed agricultural animal populations. Furthermore, there was strong consensus that in the post-sequencing era, research employing genomics techniques and tools should be integrated across all disciplines engaged in the animal sciences as opposed to being separated into “genomics” program areas. An overwhelmingly clear message from the workshop was that it is critical for USDA research leaders to develop and implement a visionary, long-term plan for animal genomics research as soon as possible. Such a plan will ensure that the full potential of past, current, and future efforts and investments in animal genomics will have a positive impact on animal producers and the public in the post-sequencing era.