An examination of a small sample of hair or blood can reveal if a calf has any genetic diseases that will lower the market price.
Now, a team of clinicians and diagnosticians and genetic researchers at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine are looking to test those calves earlier . . . before they are born . . . even before their mother is pregnant.
Dr. Jim West and Dr. Paul Plummer are researching a method to determine if a bovine is genetically sound when it is still an embryo prior to being implanted in its mother.
This process, if successful, would allow producers to select which embryos are valuable before spending the time, effort and expense of producing a calf only to find out that it has genetic defects that render it of little value.
Until now, the problem has been biopsy samples of embryos are so small -- only a few cells - that it was impossible to accurately read the genetic information.
"There were limitations to the process," said West, director of Food Supply Veterinary Medicine. "You can't take very many cells when you do the biopsy. You have to leave enough cells to get a pregnancy."
New technology may allow West and Plummer to get accurate genetic information from samples as small as two to three cells and still keep the embryo viable, even if it is frozen for long-term storage.
"Our research is looking at the ability to biopsy the embryo, freeze it and then do a variety of tests on the sample after only seven days from when it was conceived," said West.
The study is being funded by a Grow Iowa Values Fund Grant. The goal of the grant program is to support development of technologies with commercial potential and to support the growth of companies using those technologies.
The researchers are working with Ames Center for Genetic Technologies, Inc. as their corporate partner.
Testing for traits can be very simple or more complex.
Checking the sex of a calf intended for dairy production is very important. Males have little value for dairy producers.
More complex testing can also screen embryos for genes that will indicate whether calves will carry traits for beef tenderness, feed efficiency, nutrition and more than a dozen others.
"Testing is going to happen," said West. "Right now the testing happens on animals that are already born. This test will allow us to go back a generation and only select those that have the desirable traits."
The new process will offer producers many advantages, according to Plummer, a clinician in Food Supply Veterinary Medicine.
"First, the new test allows very small samples," he said. "Also, it is affordable for the producer. It is also modular, so we can test for different traits. Finally, it is adaptable. When new diseases are identified we can change it."
West and Plummer see many possibilities in this new technology.
Overseas markets have specific preferences for how their beef and dairy taste. This new technology will allow producers to market embryos with specific traits to the markets they best fit, according to Plummer.
Another benefit is that embryos already in storage can be thawed and tested for diseases that may have not previously been detectable. These types of tests may allow many diseased cattle to be avoided.
Other members of the research team include Dr. Patrick Halbur, chair of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine; Dr. Rodger Main, director of operations at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; and Marianna Jahnke, Embryo Transfer Unit.
Jim West | EurekAlert!
Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections
25.09.2017 | University of Maryland
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy