1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop scientifically-based tools for animal improvement programs in Africa and establish a cooperative network that individual country breeding programs can leverage the efforts of one another. Provide a nexus to enhance the cooperative efforts of advanced research institutions, such as ARS and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ILRI has expertise in locally adapted breeds and livestock animal improvement programs in Africa, and has facilities for hosting laboratory activities for isolating genomic DNA from tissue samples. The facilities are located in the region of relevant resource target populations, and ILRI’s location will likely act as a hub of future scientific activities for this cooperative network of researchers studying genomics in ruminants of Africa.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
ILRI will host visiting scientists that are working with ARS in collecting samples to generate the resource population of cattle that will make up a HapMap population of cattle representing locally adapted breeds of importance. The overall goal of this cooperation is to provide a suitable environment to ensure reliable extraction of genomic DNA from tissues that may not be importable into the U.S., and also provide training for outside scientists participating in this project.
3. Progress Report:
The objective was to catalyze a cooperative effort to apply genomic tools to characterize the ruminant genomes of locally adapted, native breeds throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This information would help develop genomic tools for animal improvement programs in Africa and provide a nexus to enhance the cooperative efforts of advanced research institutions, such as ARS and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). In the previous year, ILRI scientists helped train a Nigerian graduate student in genomic DNA extraction techniques. This year the student spent about 30 days at the ARS Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory, Beltsville, MD running genetic analysis on the nearly 474 animals from 15 native breeds of African cattle genotyped across the BovineHD (700,000 SNP) beadchip panel. The results show the similarity of African zebu cattle and the diverse amount of zebu admixture in taurine breeds between Nigeria and Uganda. This research supported all three objectives of the in-house project to develop biological resources and computational tools to enhance characterization of ruminant genomes, utilize genotypic data to enhance genetic improvement of food animals across a spectrum of ruminant production systems, and characterize functional genetic variation for environmental sustainability of ruminants.