Newly discovered cattle genes could be keys to more sustainable beef industry

phys.org | 7/5/2019 | Staff
chrismpotts (Posted by) Level 3
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A newly discovered series of genes related to feed efficiency could pave the way to making cattle farming cheaper and more sustainable, according to a new study by University of Alberta researchers.

U of A ruminant biologist and microbiologist Le Luo Guan and her research team showed that of the 20,000 genes expressed in bovine rumen, liver, muscle and back fat—key tissues involved in energy metabolism—19 seem to be associated with feed efficiency.

****-Zeng - Sun - Fellow - Guan - Lab

****-Zeng Sun, a post-doctoral fellow in Guan's lab, made the discovery by using functional genomics and computational statistics to shed some light on the mechanics involved in feed efficiency, a complex biological process that remains poorly understood.

"This is laying the groundwork for us to use these genes when doing genomic selection for feed-efficient animals in cattle breeding programs," said Sun, the study's lead author.

Alberta - Country - Cattle - Head - Percent

In 2016, Alberta boasted the country's largest cattle herd: 4.9 million head, or about 42 percent of Canada's total cattle population. Though the beef industry still plays an important role in the province's economy, it's been the target of rising scrutiny because of its contribution to climate change.

A single bull or cow, explained Sun, can produce up to 500 litres of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—when it digests its daily meals. The more an animal eats, the more...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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