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A bull by the name of Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie has been scientifically declared to be the best bull ever bred, says The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal. Born in 2004, he already has 346 daughters, and his semen has become a "hot commodity," Madrigal says. "In January of 2009, before he had a single daughter producing milk, the United States Department of Agriculture took a look at his lineage and more than 50,000 markers on his genome and declared him the best bull in the land," he adds.

The dairy industry has been changed by data-driven predictions, and dairy scientists have become the "Gregor Mendels" of the 21st century, Madrigal says. Dairy farmers keep thorough records on the traits of their animals, and breeders have been able to choose a small number of key desirable traits to breed into the animals. "We're at the cusp of a new era in which genomic data starts to compress the cycle of trait improvement, accelerating our path towards the perfect milk-production machine, also known as the Holstein dairy cow," Madrigal adds. In fact, he says, breeders can choose between "genomic bulls" that have been rated solely on their genes, and "proven bulls" that have data from dairy farms and breeders backing them up. So far, it seems that the genomic bulls are producing better results than the bulls bred in the traditional manner.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

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Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.