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Australians Pledge $8 Million for Sheep Genomics

NEW YORK, Aug. 14 - A major Australian livestock trade association has committed A$15 million, or about US$8 million, to a five-year sheep-genomics project.


The goals of the project, sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia, include the search for genetic markers for muscle traits and parasite and disease resistance. The effort builds upon research mapping quantitative trait loci to regions in the sheep genome, and may expand to proteomics studies to explore gene expression of valuable traits.


Localizing these traits will help breeders identify disease- and parasite-resistant sheep, improve reproductive fitness, and recognize and control animal disease, said the project's backers.


MLA will coordinate the effort, contracting out the research to genomics labs and finding collaborators in the US, New Zealand, and Europe.


While most of the research will be in the public domain, MLA will also look for licensing partnerships for any commercially valuable discoveries, said Hutton Oddy, MLA southern production research manager.


Money for the project will come from the levies that MLA collects from agricultural producers and from Australian government matching funds.

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