Scientists announce cattle genetics map

Scientists have announced they have finished the genome sequencing of cows, which could lead to an increase in disease resistance, meat quality and animal welfare.

New research, which was published in the journal Science, has fully sequenced and annotated the bovine genome. This gives scientists a greater insight into the biology and evolution of cows and could lead to a revolution in cattle breeding.

More than 22,000 genes have been mapped and scientists now have a draft of the entire cattle genome, which makes it the first mammalian livestock animal genome to have been published. There are also significant implications for human health as cattle are widely used as models for human reproductive biology and infectious diseases.

UK researchers, supported in part by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), have played a key part in the annotation and analysis of the genome as part of a 300-scientist collaboration spanning 25 countries.

BBSRC chief executive Prof. Douglas Kell said: “There is a looming crisis in food production on the horizon. The inexorable growth in the global population and changing consumption patterns in the developing world mean that even before you include climate change we have to find ways to produce more food with fewer resources.

"We need to recognise that livestock play a key role in many people’s diets. Research such as the cattle genome project underpins the delivery sustainable and nutritious meat with the highest possible standards of animal welfare.”

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