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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

05-11-09

Contacts:

James Reecy, Animal Science, (515) 294-9269, jreecy@iastate.edu

Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704, kuester@iastate.edu

Iowa State University researcher is part of cattle-genome mapping team

AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University faculty member is part of an international team that mapped the cattle genome.

James Reecy, director of the Office of Biotechnology and associate professor of animal science, took part in the annotation portion of the mapping project that manually examined the computer-generated genetic sequencing.

The group's findings are being published in the current edition of the journal Science.

In the past, animal genome sequencing has focused mostly on small animals, such as rat and dog.

"This is the first time cattle were sequenced for a whole genome assembly," said Reecy. "It is important that we have the entire genome for a large animal."

The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, which was interested in how this sequencing could help understand the previously mapped human genome.

"It was very beneficial for humans," said Reecy. "We found a new gene sequence in cattle that hadn't been seen in humans, which helped us to improve the annotation of the human genome."

The grouped mapped the genome of Taurine cattle, or non-humped cattle, which includes many breeds such as Angus, Shorthorn and most other beef and dairy breeds that are common to colder weather areas such as North America and Western Europe.

Cattle were chosen by researchers to be mapped because the species fills a need in the list of animals that can help understand animal and human genes. Mapping cattle also helps fill in needed information in the evolution of different species.

Cattle fit a unique evolutionary group. That, along with the agricultural benefit is why the species was chosen, said Reecy.

That benefit for farmers includes the possibility of learning more quickly which genes are associated with which traits of importance in cattle.

"We can increase the efficiency with which we can say, 'This gene is associated with this trait.'" said Reecy. "This will help us answer questions like, 'Can we improve milk production? Can we improve the healthfulness of beef?' This will allow us to do things quickly that otherwise would have taken us years."

The lead researchers for the project were from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas; and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia; and was funded partially through the United States Department of Agriculture, CSIRO and National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

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Quick look

An Iowa State University researcher helped map the genome of Taurine cattle, which includes many breeds such as Angus, Shorthorn and most other beef and dairy breeds that are common to North America and Western Europe.

Quote

This will allow us to do things quickly that otherwise would have taken us years.

James Reecy