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Scientists From 25 Countries Sequence Cow Genome
Date:4/23/2009

Could lead to better breeding techniques, shed light on human genome

THURSDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- A consortium of more than 300 researchers in 25 countries has succeeded in sequencing the entire genome of the placid, farm-dwelling cow.

The feat has implications for understanding the biology of this bovine and related creatures (even humans), and sheds light on some evolutionary history, said the authors of two reports in the April 24 issue of Science.

Most importantly, the mapping of the cow genome could portend ways to improve and increase the world's food supply.

Whereas, in the past, the "genetic merit" of the milk-production capability of a bull's female offspring took five years to assess, things will now move much more quickly, said Jeremy Taylor, co-author of one of the reports and Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics at the University of Missouri. "The bull is born, we can pull a few hairs out of his tail and predict his genetic merit for the milk-producing capability of his daughters with an accuracy of 70 percent."

Seventeen countries, including the United States, have already adopted this technology, Taylor added.

"We can choose the cattle not only based on their traits but also based on the sequences of the genes that matter," said Bret Payseur, an assistant professor of medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "You can imagine that that's going to be much more efficient."

"This will make the identification of genes that are important in traits having to do with food production, milk quality and meat quality easier to identify. In breeding, it's going to help with tracking those traits and perhaps making selective breeding a faster process because we may be able to identify the genes that are involved [earlier]," added Kim C. Worley, co-author of one of the reports and an associate professor in the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor Col
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