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Scotland, Kenya to Launch Tropical Livestock Genetics Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Scientists in Scotland and Kenya will work together in a new international center focused on studying livestock genetics to improve the health and productivity of tropical farm animals, The Roslin Institute said Tuesday.

A joint effort between the University of Edinburgh, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), and Kenya's International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health will develop technologies to help farmers in developing countries identify the animals for breeding that will boost the economic value and quality of their livestock.

The research teams in both nations will study genes that provide disease resistance and enable some breeds to thrive in a warm, arid, climate, and they will aim to characterize new diseases that emerge and track outbreaks.

"Modern genetic approaches offer new opportunities to identify livestock suited to the diverse and demanding conditions under which African smallholder farmers work," ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith said in a statement.

The site in Scotland will be at the University of Edinburgh's Easter Bush Campus, where the Roslin Institute, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, and Scotland's Rural College, are located.

The Kenyan side of the center will be housed at the ILRI, in Nairobi, and will involve researchers from the institute's LiveGene livestock genetic program and the Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub.

Geoff Simm, a professor and vice principal of research at Scotland's Rural College, said the alliance "has the potential to transform our international efforts to help improve livestock genetics, enhancing food security but also reducing the environmental impact of global livestock production."