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NEWS RELEASE

Bovine Genome Sequenced; Database Now Online

Contact:
Julie Quick (202) 720-4623
Jim Spurling (202) 720-8181

Printable version

Release No. 0423.04

BOVINE GENOME SEQUENCED; DATABASE NOW ONLINE

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2004- Agriculture Undersecretary Joseph J. Jen and other leaders of the Bovine Genome Sequencing Project announced today that the first draft of the bovine genome sequence has been deposited into free public databases for use by biomedical and agricultural researchers around the globe.

Contributors to the $53 million international effort to sequence the genome of the cow (Bos taurus) include: the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health; the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) National Research Initiative (NRI) competitive grants program; the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS); the State of Texas; Genome Canada; The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Australia; Agritech Investments Ltd., Dairy Insight, Inc., and AgResearch Ltd., all of New Zealand; and National, Texas, and South Dakota Beef Checkoff Funds.

"Sequencing the bovine genome is a major accomplishment in terms of both the international collaboration that went into this project as well as the impact this database will have on the timing and scale of advances in human and agricultural research," said Jen. "Partnerships and teamwork helped to keep this project on track, and we will always be grateful to those who dedicated so much time to this major breakthrough."

Sequencing the bovine genome is expected to provide a number of benefits to basic biology, which may be translated to more efficient and profitable methods of meat and milk production for beef and dairy producers. The bovine genome sequence will serve as a tool for agricultural researchers striving to improve health and disease management of cattle and enhance the nutritional value of beef and dairy products. Identifying, mapping, and understanding the function of genes in cattle will make the nation's food supply safer by providing methods for genetic tracking of animals and animal products, selecting animals with reduced risk for disease, and decreasing the use of antibiotics.

A team led by Richard Gibbs, Ph.D., at Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston carried out the sequencing and assembly of the genome. Additional work aimed at uncovering more detailed information about individual bovine genes - a process referred to as full-length cDNA sequencing - is being conducted at the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre in Vancouver.

The initial assembly is based on 3.3-fold coverage of the bovine genome. Researchers can access the sequence data through the following public databases: GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/Genbank) at NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); EMBL Bank (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/index.html) at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Nucleotide Sequence Database; and the DNA Data Bank of Japan (http://www.ddbj.nig.ac.jp/). The data can also be viewed through NCBI's Map Viewer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mapview/), UCSC Genome Browser (http://www.genome.ucsc.edu/) at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Ensembl Genome Browser (http://www.ensembl.org/) at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England.

Researchers are currently comparing the bovine genome sequence with those of the human and other organisms that have already been sequenced. The bovine genome is similar in size to the genomes of humans and other mammals, containing approximately 3 billion DNA base pairs. The results of these analyses will be published in the public databases in the next several months.

Sequencing of the bovine genome began in December 2003. The Hereford breed of cattle was selected for the bulk of the sequencing project. Sequencing at lighter coverage will be carried out in additional cattle breeds, including the Holstein, Angus, Jersey, Limousin, Norwegian Red and Brahman. The completed Bovine Genome Sequencing Project will allow detailed tracking of the DNA differences between these breeds to assist discovery of traits for better meat and milk production and to model human disease.

To learn more about the rapidly expanding field of comparative genomic analysis, go to: http://www.genome.gov/10005835. The white paper that outlines the scientific rationale and strategy for sequencing the bovine genome is available online.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities through national program leadership and federal assistance. More information about CSREES can be found at: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/. ARS is the in-house research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More information about ARS can be found at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/.