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USDA Announces New Funding for Whole Genome Animal Selection

News Release

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

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2007 - USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service announced today that $5 million will be available in Fiscal Year 2008 for a 4-year research project to investigate methods of using whole genome enabled animal selection. This research will enable animal breeders to use genetic information to predict what an animal's physical makeup will be and what genes will be passed to the next generation.

"USDA, along with many federal agencies, states and other organizations, has invested millions of dollars in efforts to sequence the genomes of the primary agricultural animals," said Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "The goal of this project is to move animal genome science from the laboratory to the field and the marketplace and, in the process, solve real world problems."

Whole genome enabled animal selection is a technique that scans the animal's genome, the makeup of its DNA and predicts its genetic merit as a potential future parent.

To capitalize on this exciting area of science, USDA developed the Blueprint for USDA Efforts in Agricultural Genomics 2008-2017. Whole genome enabled animal selection was identified as a high priority research focus. This program is expected to take advantage of recent advances in genomics and translate these basic discoveries and knowledge to practical applications.

CSREES is funding this project under the National Research Initiative's 2008 Request for Applications. Dr. Peter Burfening, national program leader for animal genomics, developed this new project and will coordinate this new funding opportunity.

"Genomics promises to revolutionize the field of animal science and promote low cost, high tech tools for animal breeders," said Burfening.

More information about the whole genome enabled animal selection funding opportunity can be found on the funding opportunities Web page.

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. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.