Scientists at the University of Alberta have just completed the genome sequencing of Semex's famous Braedale Goldwyn, making him the first Holstein bull in Canada to be fully sequenced.
Genome sequencing requires determining the order and nature of all the DNA molecules carried by an individual on its chromosomes. For a bovine, this is 3 billion DNA molecules. Sequencing can be considered the ultimate in genotyping. Instead of characterizing just 50,000 DNA molecules in the genome of an individual, as occurs with the 50K panel used for genomic selection, genome sequencing characterizes all 3 billion molecules.
Dr. Stephen Moore and Dr. Paul Stothard at the University of Alberta, in partnership with Life Technologies, have sequenced Goldwyn's genome to 20-fold coverage in less than three runs on the SOLiD 3 System.
"Using this additional information brings the value of an animal into clearer focus, like a detailed blueprint of the genetic makeup of the individual," says Dr. Moore, leader of the Bovine Genomics Program at the University of Alberta. "Scientifically, this is the next wave of genomics."
The prospect for the future, as the cost of sequencing continues to fall, is that most key animals will have their genome sequenced. This information, along with appropriate phenotypic measurements on a large number of animals in the production system, will lead to more fully informed breeding decisions for the industry. Knowing what genes contribute to many of the cattle traits of interest will have spin offs to other fields such as human health and disease.
"Having an assembled sequence of the genome of this elite bull (Goldwyn) now allows the team to study the variations that characterize it and to follow their transmission over subsequent generations," said Dr. Moore. "My team has planned a three-year research project in collaboration with Semex in order to turn this new information into practical industry applications. The ultimate objective is to assist farmers in improving production, health and milk quality."
Widely believed to be one of the greatest sires of our time, Semex's Goldwyn continues to rank extremely high for both Lifetime Profit Index (LPI) and Total Performance Index (TPI), with dairymen worldwide benefitting from not only his tens of thousands of daughters, but also his sons that are now widely available.
Dr. Jacques Chesnais, Semex Alliance Senior Geneticist, added, "This sequencing is especially significant to the dairy cattle industry because Goldwyn's genes will make an important contribution to the genetic make-up of future generations, and the more we know about Goldwyn's genome, the better we can target genetic improvement for his descendants."
The sequencing effort puts Alberta and Canada up with the best in the world in the area of Livestock Genomics. Life Technologies' contribution to the project has made this effort possible.