Tip of The Day - October 7, 2016

Photo by Tom Semadeni

Beaver's work

1987 Incorporation of Biotechnologies into Animal Breeding Strategies

This material was by John Gibson and Charlie Smith as a contribution towards a book. This is an abstract of what they wrote. Keep in mind this is 14 years before Meuwissen and Goddard and Hayes.

Biotechnology is the application of biological knowledge to the advantage of mankind. Modern animal breeding is biotechnology already. In various livestock species a variety of reproductive biotechnologies are employed in genetic change. Examples are detection of estrus, artificial insemination, detection of pregnancy, which provide benefits to animal improvement programs, but there is little requirement to alter breeding strategies.

Biotechnologies which improve reproductive rates on the female side such as multiple ovulation and embryo transfer (MOET), embryo splitting and cloning could usefully be added to existing strategies. MOET, for example, could increase the rates of genetic improvement of dairy cattle. MOET could be used in nucleus breeding schemes on young animals, but effects on inbreeding should be monitored. Cloning would allow selection among clones, but would depend on the ratio of broad to narrow sense heritabilities.

A variety of molecular genetic markers could allow marker assisted selection of quantitative trait loci. Increased rates of genetic improvement may well be possible, but theory of how to optimize use of the information generated is lacking and needs to be developed.

Production of transgenic animals is already routine, and transgenic technology is being improved. Transgenic animals could be used to produce novel high value products, or to increase the economic merit of existing traits. These may have little impact on overall population improvement, but may benefit specific producers, because relatively few animals would be involved in these new products.

Gibson and Smith did not discuss whether genetically modified organisms would be accepted by consumers. In the case of clones and transgenic animals, these have been rejected by nearly everyone. So that, these technologies have not really made large impacts. However, the use of genetic markers (SNPs) has become very important.

Photo by Tom Semadeni

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