“We have assembled an extremely strong team of research scientists, educators, and extension specialists to combat a serious and complex animal health issue with modern genomic technology,” explains Womack. “We have known for years that individual cattle vary in their response to the pathogens responsible for Bovine Respiratory Disease and that much of this variation is genetic. We now have the genomic tools to identify the basis for this variation at the DNA level and to utilize this information in selective breeding programs and animal health management. This project will be a model for the power of cooperation of major research and educational institutions and animal industries to make basic scientific discoveries, to train professionals in the application of these discoveries, and to translate new knowledge into economic gain along with improved animal health and welfare.”
“We are elated to have such innovative investigators who have afforded the opportunity for such a prominent grant to be housed at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,” notes Dr. Eleanor Green, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “The powerful collaborations brought together through this grant will revolutionize the beef and dairy industries by saving many animals and markedly increasing production.”
“This national funding is a clear recognition of the outstanding animal genomics program at the CVM, which is comprised of a National Academy of Sciences member and several internationally renowned scientists,” says Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies at the CVM. “We are extremely proud of this remarkable achievement by our faculty. Their contributions will bring about lasting improvement in two areas of economic importance to the cattle industry – health and production.”
While Texas A&M is the lead institution on this project, the team includes scientists and educators from the University of Missouri, Washington State University, University of California-Davis, New Mexico State University, Colorado State University, the University of Wisconsin, and the USDA ARS unit in Beltsville, MD. Participants from Texas A&M include Dr. Noah Cohen, Dr. Loren Skow, Dr. Lawrence Falconer, Dr. Christopher Seabury, Dr. Scott Dindot, and Dr. Alan Dabney. The genomics program at Texas A&M is further supported by AgriLife Research.
The grant to study feed efficiency in cattle will genotype 8,000 cattle and determine how genetic differences affect feed intake and efficiency. They will also study specific bacteria and microbes that reside in the cattle’s stomach that aid in food digestion.