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Genome Alberta Starts New $20M Livestock Genomics Projects

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Genome Alberta said yesterday that it plans to use C$20.6 million (US$20.3 million) to apply genomics to study cow and pig traits in order to enhance the animals' livestock potential.

The new funding includes C$12.4 million to the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan, and PigGen Canada to use genomics to reduce the impact of two common pig disorders: porcine circovirus associated disease and porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome.

This project also will study public perceptions about the use of genomic technologies to prevent diseases in pork production. Genome Alberta expects that the pig studies will lead to new ways of controlling diseases, new drugs and vaccines for treating and preventing them, and a safer food chain that is less reliant on antibiotics.

A second project will provide C$8.2 million to researchers at the University of Guelph and the Centre for Animal Science at the University of Queensland to conduct whole genome selection studies focused on beef cattle.

The researchers will target traits that are difficult to improve and may be used in low-cost tests that will enable a cow's genome to be inferred from a relatively small number of genetic markers. The researchers also will examine potential market barriers for the adoption of these technologies.

Genome Alberta said that this project will generate an estimated C$300 million in benefits over the next decade.

"These projects are taking advantage of the Alberta expertise and global leadership in livestock genetics, and are excellent examples of how industry and societal needs can be integrated," Genome Alberta
Chief Scientific Officer Gijs van Rooijen said in a statement.

Funding for these studies is provided by Genome Canada, Genome Alberta, the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, PigGen Canada, Genome Prairie, and an international consortium led by the US Department of Agriculture, Western Economic Development, and other international agencies and organizations.