15 Sep 2008

Genome research will bring productivity gains - AgResearch

9:13 am on 15 September 2008

Crown research institute, AgResearch, expects its involvement in a new genome research network will help to speed up the use of genetics to make productivity gains in livestock and plants.

It's part of a collaboration with three universities which will receive $40 million in Government funding.

AgResearch has been involved in international efforts to identify the complete DNA sequence or genome of cattle and sheep.

The scientist leading this work for AgResearch, Dr John McEwan, says AgResearch's involvement in the new genomics infrastructure will allow it to develop tests to identify genetic characteristics in a wide range of animals, plants and organisms.

He says that's already happened with cattle and the tool that enables genomic selection in sheep should be available by Christmas.

Dr McEwan says AgResearch is also sequencing the DNA of various bacteria, including the ones that produce methane in the gut of ruminant animals.

That is part of research efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock industry.