A bull calf with an edited genome so that he'll produce more male offspring was born in April, possibly heralding a way of producing beef that is friendlier to the environment, Grist reports.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis, previously bred dairy cattle that are hornless using genes from naturally hornless cattle, so as to avoid having to remove their horns to protect farm workers. The same team, led by Davis's Alison Van Eenennaam, was also working on developing cattle that are more likely to produce male offspring by inserting the SRY gene into the X chromosome. Male cattle grow bigger and faster, and would make the ranching industry more efficient, they said.
Van Eenennaam and her colleagues announced the birth of Cosmo, a gene-edited calf, at the American Society of Animal Science meeting yesterday. Cosmo, Van Eenennaam tells Grist, is a "really cute calf."
"We anticipate Cosmo's offspring that inherit this SRY gene will grow and look like males, regardless of whether they inherit a Y chromosome," she adds in a statement.
Grist notes, though, Van Eenennaam and her colleagues analyzed Cosmo's blood to find that they, rather than inserting one SRY copy into his genome, inserted seven. However, they don't anticipate Cosmo will have any problems because of that, but are looking at how to avoid the issue, it adds.