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.
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 for beef and dairy producers. The bovine genome sequence will serve as a tool for agricultural researchers striving to improve health and disease management of cattle and enhance the nutritional value of beef and dairy products.
In addition, identifying, mapping, and understanding the function of genes in cattle will make the nationâ€™s 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.
An international community of government and private industry members has contributed $53 million to further the project. A team led by Richard Gibbs, Ph.D., at Baylor College of Medicineâ€™s 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 â€“ a process referred to as full-length cDNA sequencing â€“ 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 is similar in size to the genomes of humans and other mammals, containing approximately 3 billion DNA base pairs. The results of these analyses will be published in the public databases in the next several months.
Researchers can access the sequence data through the following public databases: GenBank at NIHâ€™s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); EMBL Bank at the European Molecular Biology Laboratoryâ€™s Nucleotide Sequence Database; and the DNA Data Bank of Japan. The data can also be viewed through NCBIâ€™s Map Viewer, UCSC Genome Browser at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Ensembl Genome Browser.