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, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release reported.
"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," Jen said. "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. The bovine genome sequence will serve as a tool for ag 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 nations 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 at Baylor College of Medicines 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 is being conducted at the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre in Vancouver.
Researchers are currently comparing the bovine genome sequence with those of the human and other organisms that have already been sequenced. The bovine genome, containing approximately 3 billion DNA base pairs, is similar in size to the genomes of humans and other mammals. 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 was selected for the bulk of the sequencing project. Sequencing at lighter coverage will be carried out in additional breeds, including 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.
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.
To learn more about the rapidly expanding field of comparative genomic analysis, visit www.genome.gov/10005835.