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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics and Animal Breeding » Research » Research Project #441702

Research Project: Developing a Genetic Solution to the Billion-dollar Horn Fly Problem

Location: Genetics and Animal Breeding

Project Number: 3040-31000-104-005-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2022
End Date: Dec 31, 2025

Improve the resistance/tolerance of beef cattle to horn flies through genetic selection. Identify the most appropriate horn fly resistance phenotypes that are cost effective to collect. Assess of the possibility for a genetic improvement program for the identified horn fly resistance/tolerance related traits. Identify of genomic signatures associated with horn fly resistance/tolerance.

Abundance of horn flies will be estimated through the use of photographic images and large-scale phenomics techniques. This will include collection of blood parameters (e.g. prothrombin), blood clotting rate and easy to measure phenotypes (e.g. hair follicle count). Growth rate, feed consumption, and fly evasion behaviors to relate fly burden to economic risk thresholds. Raw data will be processed to derive quantitative measurements that will be assessed for their ability to predict horn fly resistance/tolerance. Appropriate quantitative tools, including Bayesian statistics, machine learning, and neural networks, will be developed to integrate the different data sources. Quantitative genetic approaches and genome-wide association studies will be implemented to assess the genetic basis and to evaluate the adequacy of a genetic improvement program for horn fly resistance/tolerance. We will develop and assess the viability of a future genetic improvement program for horn fly resistance/tolerance. It will also provide information about the genetic basis of horn fly resistance through the use of genomic data which could lead to the identification of specific polymorphisms that could be used as selection or decision-making tools.