USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists are using a new tool to find relationships between DNA markers and economically significant traits in cattle. The new tool, called the Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip, is a glass slide containing thousands of DNA markers, some of which may be associated with important production traits such as disease resistance.

Researchers are using the BeadChip to research bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Cattle can carry BRD without showing any symptoms, so infected animals can be difficult to identify. Tools like the BeadChip may facilitate identification of genetic markers for traits like BRD resistance.