A related paper also appears in today's issue of Science. In that paper, the Bovine HapMap Consortium unveils a map that charts key DNA differences, called haplotypes, among the diverse branches of the bovine tree. The scientists compared the Hereford genome sequence with those of six other breeds: the Holstein, Angus, Jersey, Limousin, Norwegian Red and Brahman. Follow-up studies were then done on 497 cattle from 19 geographic and biologically distinct breeds. The species represent the humpless taurine cattle most commonly found in Europe, Africa and East and West Asia and the indicine cattle found in India, South and West Asia and East Africa.
Generally, the bovine HapMap indicates that present day cattle came from a diverse ancestral population from Africa, Asia and Euroupe, that has undergone a recent rapid decrease in population size, probably due to domestication. Researchers can use the bovine HapMap to track DNA differences between cattle breeds to assist discovery of traits for better meat and milk production.
"The bovine HapMap will be a valuable resource and will transform how dairy and beef cattle are bred," said Richard Gibbs, Ph.D., at Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston. "Genetic tools are already being developed and proving useful to the dairy industry and we predict they will be applied to improve the beef industry. We hope the information will also be used to come up with innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of cattle, such as greenhouse gases released by herds."
|Contact: Geoff Spencer|
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute