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Bovine genome sequence available Bovine genome sequence available


The first draft of the bovine genome sequence is now freely available to biomedical and agricultural researchers around the world.

CSIRO Livestock Industries is a partner in the U.S. $53 million dollar international effort to sequence the genome of the cow (Bos taurus).

"CSIRO has invested in the research to increase understanding and utilisation of the bovine genome which is a major focus for our livestock portfolio development both now and into the future," CSIRO Livestock Industries’ Chief, Shaun Coffey, says. "The bovine genome physical map and sequence will assist scientists to develop tools to advance selection of desirable production traits, identify genes involved in pest and disease resistance and enable better matching of products to market specifications." The bovine genome is similar in size to the genomes of humans and other mammals, containing approximately three billion DNA base pairs.

The sequencing of the bovine genome will also help medical researchers learn more about the human genome and thereby develop better ways of treating and preventing disease.

Researchers are currently comparing the draft version of the bovine genome sequence with those of the human and other organisms that have already been sequenced. The results of these analyses will be published on public databases in the next several months.

Sequencing and assembly of the bovine genome began in December 2003, led by Richard Gibbs and George Weinstock at the Baylor College of Medicine’s Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, Texas.

The Hereford, a cattle breed well known for its beef production capabilities was selected for the bulk of the sequencing project. Holstein, Angus, Jersey, Limousin, Norwegian Red and Brahman cattle breeds will be also sequenced at a ’lighter’ coverage.

The Bovine Genome Sequencing Project, due for completion in 2005, will allow detailed tracking of the DNA differences between these breeds to assist discovery of traits for better meat and milk production and to model human disease.

The initial assembly is based on 3.3-fold coverage of the bovine genome and by 2005, a 6-fold sequence coverage will be achieved. Researchers can access the sequence data through the following public databases: GenBank ( at NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); EMBL Bank ( at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s Nucleotide Sequence Database; and the DNA Data Bank of Japan ( The data can also be viewed through NCBI’s Map Viewer (, UCSC Genome Browser ( at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Ensembl Genome Browser ( at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England.

Veronic a Toohey | EurekAlert!
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