Completed genome set to transform the cow

as selected for the bulk of the sequencing project, which began in December 2003. Holstein, Angus, Jersey, Limousin, Norwegian Red and Brahman animals were also sequenced to detect specific genetic differences between breeds.

"This is just the beginning of a revolution in the way we produce our animals and food," Dr Dalrymple says. "Once we have a complete set of genes that influence tenderness, for example, we will be able to predict that animals of a certain type, fed a particular type of pasture or grain, will consistently produce meat of a particular standard of tenderness and marbling."

He says, despite the centuries of inbreeding involved in developing different cattle breeds, most maintain a "surprisingly large" degree of genetic diversity. Contributors to the US$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 (NIH); the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service; 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.


Contact: Lisa Palu
CSIRO Australia

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