Spotlight

Bull Market - Collaboration with beef industry tests advanced breeding technologies

October 09, 2018

By Robin DeRieux

COWS ARE SPECIAL. As ruminants, they eat grass and other plants that are inedible to people, transforming forage into steak and hamburgers and other tasty high-protein beef products.

Over the past few decades, the beef industry has made significant improvements in productivity—generating more food from fewer numbers of cattle. Better breeding and other innovations in animal science research have played a starring role in these advances.

Primary Image
Pablo Ross

Pablo Ross leads national cow genomics effort

Pablo Ross (photo by Brian Baer, copyright protected)

by Amy Quinton (CA&ES)

USDA-funded project aims to uncover important genetic traits in cattle
 

The cattle industry is the largest agricultural commodity in the United States, generating more than $100 billion in farm cash receipts in 2016. Despite cattle’s economic importance, scientists still have a long way to go to fully understand mechanisms that govern important genetic traits in the animals such as growth and disease resistance.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded the University of California, Davis, $2.5 million over four years for a national cow genomics project. The research effort aims to allow the cattle industry to use genetics more efficiently to predict the traits their herds possess.

The bovine genome was first sequenced in 2009 and was one of the largest genomes ever sequenced.

“We have the code of the cow’s genome, but we don’t know what it means,” said Pablo Ross, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He will lead the efforts and serve as project director.

“This project is like genome sequencing 2.0,” said Ross. “The goal is to identify the functional elements of the cow’s genome.” Understanding that information could open the door to improvements in genetic selection, which could lead to healthier, more productive livestock.

Several universities are involved in the project including Virginia Tech, Texas A&M University, Iowa State University, Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Idaho, Colorado State University and University of Vermont.

The grant is one portion of a $6 million grant USDA awarded to create three functional genomics projects. In addition to the UC Davis-led project for cattle genomics, USDA awarded grants for swine genomics at Iowa State University and chicken genomics at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California.

McLean and Murray aim to preserve genetics of Santa Cruz Island horses

August 02, 2018

by Joe Proudman, UC Davis

IT'S HOT AT EL CAMPEON FARMS, even for early August. A hard wind accompanies the heat, blowing through the Conejo Valley, where this horse ranch sits in Southern California. Abby Followwill is saddled on a horse named Vince. His golden-brown coat and blond mane stand out against the saturated blue sky and dusty corral where Followwill is training with him.

Pablo Ross leads national cow genomics effort

July 10, 2018
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded the University of California, Davis, $2.5 million over four years for a national cow genomics project.

Anne Todgham on how how Antarctic fish cope with climate stress

July 09, 2018
Some Antarctic fish living in the planet’s coldest waters are able to cope with the stress of rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean. They can even tolerate slightly warmer waters. But they can’t deal with both stressors at the same time, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.

Alison Van Eenennaam examines how gene editing can enhance sustainability plus animal health and welfare

September 15, 2017

Gene Editing Can Complement Traditional Food-Animal Improvements
By Pat Bailey (UC Davis News)

Quick Summary
  • Gene editing builds on traditional breeding successes
  • The technology enhances sustainability plus animal health and welfare
  • Questions remain about regulatory issues

Gene editing — one of the newest and most promising tools of biotechnology — enables animal breeders to make beneficial genetic changes, without bringing along unwanted genetic changes.