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Consortium Creates Cow Gene Map

NEW YORK, March 13-An international consortium is now creating a sequence-ready contig map of cow genes, laying the groundwork for a cattle genome sequence project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said yesterday.


The project involves researchers at UI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, the British Columbia Cancer Agency and The Institute for Genomic Research.


It will be directed by Harris Lewin, director of UI's center for functional and comparative genomics, and by the USDA's Steve Kappes.


The consortium will first fingerprint a library of 280,000 cattle BAC clones. TIGR will then sequence the ends of at least 100,000 of these clones. The two data sets will be merged, organized, and attached to chromosomes with UI's bioinformatics tools in order to create a sequence-ready map.


The British Columbia Cancer Agency has already fingerprinted more than 125,000 cattle BAC clones.


The collaborators plan to finish this preliminary project by 2003. They then hope to create a new consortium in order to sequence the entire cow genome.


The effort builds upon a whole-genome comparative map of cow and human genes created by Lewin with Texas A&M researcher James Womack.


Sequencing the genome of the cow could help improve cattle husbandry and provide new insights into mammalian evolutionary history, according to the project's backers.


The USDA, the University of Alberta, the Alberta Cattle Commission, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, and the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council are underwriting the mapping project, slated to cost $2.5 million.


Australia's Molecular Animal Genetics Centre at the University of Queensland also hosts a cattle genome database, which has collected contributions from more than 36 laboratories worldwide.

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