Genomics to Improve Cow Productivity

Interactive Session with Dr. Deepak S. Kale
Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, Nagpur Veterinary College

Q. Now a days everybody is talking about genomics, can you please explain what is its meaning and how it works?

 This is very important advanced discipline in Animal Genetics. Let us first understand the word genome. The basic structural unit of all living beings is ‘Gene’ and the all the genes organized in a particular functional order is usually called ‘Genome’.  Genomics is the scientific study of structure, function, and interrelationships of both individual genes and genome in its entirety. It brings together know-how in animal biology, bioinformatics and applied mathematics to generate and use new data. Genomics will shed new light on highly complex workings of living organisms,and allow the world to use genomic selection to face the challenges of livestock breeding. Animal Genomic research focuses primarily on elucidation of genetic architecture of traits of economic interest in cattle e.g. production, reproduction, adaptability, and disease traits etc.

Q.Suppose a farmer wants to know if my cow or bull is of high pedigree what he should do?

Actually, high pedigree will tell us about true to the breed purity and possession of superior genes for economic traits. This is possible with even simple action like recording the sire (father) and dam (mother) information at each generation so that one can know how the ancestors performed in previous generation for milk production and other traits.  But, under Indian conditions; where it is difficult to trace records of animal’s; the alternate complementary is genomic analysis in which animal’s genomic makeup is compared with already known superior animals. For example, illumina 50K bovine SNP chip may be used to generate SNP database of superior animals & the data can be used to identify genetic relationships and breed composition population.
[The readers can refer to directory to know addresses of such laboratories in India]

Q.You must have studied how Brazil and other countries improved Indian cows. Can we learn any lesson from that? Do you think Government is in right path or any course correction is needed?

Definitely we should learn lessons from Brazil because they have improved Indian Gir, Kankrej, Brahaman and Ongole breeds of cattle. Milk production is a quantitative character hence it is difficult to improve in short-term, it would take few generations.  The first activity Brazil undertook was to establish a string farmer-driven Zebu Breed Umbrella Association and Association for each breed…

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