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MU Livestock Research Receives An Important Boost
With Unique $5.6 Million Donation From Gust Family

University of Missouri (MU) officials on Friday, April 23, announced a historic donation, valued at $5.6 million, from the David Gust family, owners of Circle A Ranch, Iberia, Mo. The gift included 17 megabytes (MB) of detailed animal performance data and DNA samples on approximately 6,000 animals.

"To some people, this may seem just a CD-ROM full of data and a freezer full of DNA samples," said Jerry Taylor, MU Wurdack endowed chair for animal genomics. "But to those of us in livestock genetics, and to the livestock industry as a whole, it’s practically priceless. There simply isn’t another set of records and DNA this complete and of this magnitude on the planet."

The geneticist and animal scientist has spent his career searching for the genes and gene sequences that control traits such as feed efficiency, marbling, fat production and other meat characteristics in order to develop a way to find an animal’s potential with a quick DNA test.

"With this gift, we can look through the Circle A performance data, find the animals with desirable traits, then find the DNA from that animal, and through DNA sequencing, look for the genes that create the variation in those traits," Taylor said.

Once the genes or groups of genes are found, Taylor and other scientists will use that information to develop DNA tests for cattlemen to use in genetic selection and herd management.

MU researchers received DNA samples and records in late 2003. The April 23 announcement marked the beginning of the university’s active research with information that is being gleaned from the gift.

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