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International Bovine Genome Sequencing Project Releases New Genetic Resources

News Release

Jennifer Martin, CSREES Staff, (202) 720-8188

Printable version

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2006 – Researchers from the Bovine Genome Sequencing Project are nearing completion on sequencing the genome of the cow and have released on free public databases bovine genetic information, including the most current, complete and accurate genome sequence and an upgraded genetic map.

“The knowledge gained from this project will aid scientists in identifying genes that can increase the efficiency of meat and milk production in a manner that is environmentally sustainable and economically profitable for beef and dairy producer,” said Dr. Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

The USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service and Agricultural Research Service contributed to the $53 million international effort, which began in December 2003.

The new bovine genome sequence contains 2.9 billion DNA base pairs and incorporated one-third more data than earlier versions. This high-quality sequence, which covers 95 percent of the genome, will enable researchers to make accurate gene predictions and evolutionary comparisons. The sequencing was conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, in Houston.

The genome sequence was also used to create the densest and most complete genetic map of the bovine genome to date. This genetic map will be useful in identifying traits that make cows more resistant to disease and more reproductively efficient. It will also help identify animals that better adapt to different management conditions and environments and produce more nutritious meat.

The sequence data is available through the following databases:

Additional contributors to the Bovine Genome Sequencing Project include: the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health; the state of Texas; Genome Canada via Genome British Columbia; The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Australia; Agritech Investments Ltd.; Dairy Insight, Inc.; AgResearch Ltd., the Kleberg ;Foundation; and, the National, Texas and South Dakota Beef Check-off Funds.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov. ARS is the chief in-house scientific research agency of USDA.  For more information, visit ARS’ website at http://www.ars.usda.gov.