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Cattle breeders to benefit from new genotyping tool

25 January 2011

Researchers at The Roslin Institute, an institute of BBSRC, were part of an international consortium, which has led to the launch this month of a comprehensive new genotyping tool set to benefit cattle breeding. The Axiomâ„¢ Genome-Wide BOS 1 Array, produced by Affymetrix Inc. promises breeders an accelerated path to higher quality beef and dairy cattle and reduces the need for costly phenotypic testing.

The Affymetrix Bovine Consortium, including the University of Missouri, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Roslin Institute (including the ARK Genomics Centre for Comparative and Functional Genomics), University of Edinburgh, Technical University of Munich, and the University of Liverpool, amongst others, sequenced genomic DNA from a variety of Bos taurus and Bos indicus breeds, including Holstein, Angus, Nelore, and Gir to discover 46 million potential single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Approximately 400 samples from 20 diverse breeds were used to screen millions of these SNPs to identify three million high-performing, validated polymorphic SNPs. Finally, a subset of more than 648,000 SNPs was selected using a novel array design process that maximizes genetic coverage and minimizes redundancy for cost-effective genotyping.

Black and white Holstein calf.
Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 2011

The array will provide breeders of dairy and beef cattle with a more comprehensive and, therefore, more reliable means to obtain a genetic profile of their animals whilst also reducing the time and cost previously required to obtain reliable results.

"We're proud to be a part of a highly successful collaboration and that our new genetic profiling application will generate enormous value for breeders in terms of expense and time savings," said Kevin King, Affymetrix President and CEO. "We're hearing from our collaborators that our array is setting a new standard for cattle genotyping because it supplies what other options lack - maximum genetic coverage for an affordable price."

ARK-Genomics, a high throughput research and technology laboratory supported by BBSRC at The Roslin Institute, provided sequence data to the project from their next-generation sequencing facility as part of a project funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Project leader Professor Alan Archibald FRSE, Head of The Roslin Institute's Division of Genetics and Genomics said, "Having access to the latest genomic and genetic tools, such as the Axiom Genome-Wide BOS 1 Array provides breeders with the ability to identify desirable traits such as improved meat quality. Equally we, as scientists, are using this kind of technology to identify genetic markers for traits such as improved disease resistance. By doing so we can work with meat producers to improve animal welfare and productivity."

Mick Watson, Director of ARK-Genomics said, "Products such as this Axiom array demonstrate the effectiveness of academic/industrial partnerships. The increased use of new genomics tools will play a key role in sustainable livestock production both in the UK and globally as food demand increases in the future. We will continue to apply the latest genomics technologies in our laboratory to solve problems in animal health and food security."


Tracey Duncombe

tel: 01793 414695