Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/14/2009
Publication Date: 5/6/2009
Citation: Lemay, D.G., Rijnkels, M., German, J.B. 2009. Lessons from the bovine genome: Implications for human nutrition and research. Journal of Nutrition. 139:1271-1271. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The cow genome and assessment of its genetic variation provide new knowledge for many research fields. These data will help to improve the efficiency of the cattle and dairy industries to feed the world's population. They enable the identification of genetic variants in cattle affecting production traits and guide the selection of high-performing individuals in cattle breeding programs. For nutrition scientists, the bovine genome represents a breakthrough for the study of milk and lactation. It enables the identification of milk and lactation-related genes across all sequenced mammalian genomes. Milk uniquely informs us about nutrition, because it is the only food evolved specifically to nourish mammals. Evidence from the bovine genome project indicates that immunity conferred by milk consumption has greatly diverged between species. Furthermore, milk proteins whose genes are involved in cattle-specific genomic rearrangements have immune functions. The immune component of milk is tailored to the particular needs of each species. Thus, an important goal for future nutrition research will be to fully understand how to tailor foods to meet individual immunological needs. The post-genome era provides new opportunities to tailor bovine milk for human consumption. The bovine genome project, particularly in the context of milk, has sparked our imagination of what foods can do.