Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Discovery already returning millions to NZ sheep farming

Science discovery already returning millions to New Zealand sheep farming

An enormous international effort to map the sheep genome, which has been published today [6 June 2014], has already had very valuable spin-offs for New Zealand agriculture.

The paper, which has been published in the prestigious journal Science, represents eight years’ work by researchers in eight countries, 26 institutions with 73 authors.

AgResearch Principal Scientist John McEwan is one of the paper’s authors. He says New Zealand scientists have been using the information from the project for the last six to seven years as it has been generated.

“It has allowed us to do a whole lot of things that were previously impossible. The international effort produced a very high quality assembly of the sheep genome. Associated work has identified more than 30 million DNA variants, and because of the assembly, we know the order of all those variants as well,” he says.

“It has enabled us to create low, medium and now high density ovine SNP chips. As a result, we have implemented genomic selection in sheep, and New Zealand has been world-leading in this regard. It has also meant that the pace of discovery of gene variants affecting production and disease traits has advanced much more rapidly internationally.”

The information was used to create the 50K SNP chip which is being used to develop genetic selection in the majority of the New Zealand dual purpose sheep for 22 traits as part of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand and AgResearch-funded Ovita project. These include facial eczema, parasite resistance, number of lambs born, meat yield and adult ewe liveweight. Commercial implementation uses lower density chips developed from 50K results.

“This technology has proven useful for hard-to-measure traits which are recorded late in life,” says Mr McEwan. “We have also used this information to develop parentage assays that are now widely used in the industry and around the world.”

Use of the low and medium density (5K and 50K) SNP chips has been estimated to generate $200 million for the NZ industry over the next 15 years.

The sequencing for the early work was done at the University of Otago and Baylor College of Medicine in Texas while more recent sequencing has been done at BGI in China, Baylor and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says the work was underpinned by the huge commitment New Zealand sheep farmers have made to genomic research through their earlier investments in Ovita.

“The outcomes being celebrated here are a taste of what’s to come through the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.”

FarmIQ CEO Collier Isaacs says the new genome information has been absolutely critical for the high density SNP chip that was completed a year ago.

“It’s primarily being used by FarmIQ to track eating quality traits in New Zealand sheep. If this work is successful, we expect it will be used in the industry within 12 months. The amount of information which the high density SNP chip can provide is really impressive. If you use the analogy of the 50K SNP chip giving genetic information down to the city you came from in New Zealand, this will provide the house. It’s about 12 times more dense.”

“AgResearch is increasingly moving into using newer technologies such as genotyping by sequencing and having an annotated genome such as this one for sheep makes the implementation of that technology much simpler,” says AgResearch Research Director Professor Warren McNabb.

The paper in Science is “The Sheep Genome Illuminates Biology of the Rumen and Lipid Metabolism” and it describes the assembly and properties of the sheep genome and concentrates on what makes it unique with two examples. The first is a gene family that is important in the structural integrity of the rumen, a unique organ which allows the digestion of cellulose and other plant material in ruminants. The second is how the tissues and pathways involved in fatty acid metabolism have also changed.

The research institutes involved are: Australia (CSIRO; University of New England; University of Sydney), China (BGI-Shenzhen; Inner Mongolia agricultural University; Institute of ATCG, Nei Mongol Bio-Information; Kunming Institute of Zoology; Lanzhou Institute of Husbandry and Pharmaceutical science; Macau University of Science and Technology; North West A&F University; Sichuan Agricultural University), Denmark (University of Copenhagen), France (INRA), New Zealand (AgResearch; University of Otago), Saudi Arabia (King Abdulaziz University), UK (Biosciences KTN; Edinburgh Genomics; European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute; The Roslin Institute; Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; University of Edinburgh), USA (Baylor College of Medicine; USDA-ARS Animal Disease Research Unit; Utah State University; Washington State University).

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Statistics: Business Research And Development Up 29 Percent

Computer services and machinery manufacturing firms led the way in an almost 30 percent lift in business spending on research and development (R&D) in 2016, Stats NZ said today. Businesses spent $1.6 billion on R&D in 2016, up $356 million (29 percent) from 2014. More>>

ALSO:

China Shopping: NZ-China FTA Upgrade Agreed Among Slew Of New Deals

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and China Premier Li Keqiang signed off a series of cooperation deals spanning trade, customs, travel and climate change and confirmed commencement of official talks on an upgrade to the nine-year old free-trade agreement between the two countries. More>>

ALSO:

Media: TVNZ Flags Job Cuts To Arrest Profit Decline

Chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the changes were aimed at creating "a sustainable future video content business for TVNZ in an ever-changing media market." More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: Wheeler Keeps OCR At 1.75%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.75 percent, as expected, and reiterated his view that the benchmark rate doesn't need shifting for the foreseeable future. More>>

ALSO:

Trade Plans: Prime Minister's Speech To International Business Forum

"The work to improve public services, build infrastructure, and solve social problems is possible only because we have enjoyed sustained, solid economic growth. A big reason for that is the Government’s consistent agenda of economic reform, and our determination to open up more opportunities for trade with the world." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news