Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cattle with missing cervical vertebra - scientists elucidate phenomenon of evolutionary biology relevance

26.01.2015

Genetic defect is causal for mysterious disease

Cattle breeders had been puzzled. For some time they had observed calves with shortened tails in some Holstein cattle herds. Some calves developed normal; others showed health problems, e.g. a hobbling gait.


Recollection to a thrilling search for clues

Photo: FBN/Joachim Kloock

Some animals were even unable to stand up. This was two years ago, when the Förderverein Biotechnologieforschung, the umbrella organisation of the German pig and cattle breeding and insemination associations, approached the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) to investigate the unknown disease and to reveal its origin.

Under the lead of Prof. Christa Kühn, the scientists in Dummerstorf detected a phenomenon of evolutionary biology relevance, and, together with colleagues from the Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (www.tiho-hannover.de), solved the mystery of the disease. The results from their work applying latest molecular genetic tools were now published in the renowned scientific journal Genetics (http://www.genetics.org).

“Initially the veterinary surgeon Dr. Andreas Kromik had investigated suspicious calves and mates of the same age and sex on affected farms. During this endeavour, the farmers and cattle breeding associations strongly supported our work right from the beginning” highlighted Prof. Dr. Christa Kühn from the Institute of Genome Biology of the FBN. First clinical surveys revealed deformations of the vertebral column and malformations of the spinal cord, e.g., fluid-filled cavities, in addition to the aforesaid shortened tails.

Then, the veterinary surgeons in Hanover made a key observation when meticulously investigating the calves. “Some of the dissected calves had only six instead of the conventional seven cervical vertebrae. This is a violation of the strict rule valid since more than 200 million years that all mammals including humans share seven cervical vertebrae and that this feature is essential for survival. In humans, e.g., new-borns with congenital, non-inherited six cervical vertebrae have an extremely reduced life span.

3 billion genetic pieces – the 21st century needle-in-the-hay-stack challenge

The Leibniz scientists rapidly put up the hypothesis of a genetic defect being causal for this mystery of evolutionary biology, which had not been observed in any other species before. Inherited cases of tail malformations are known in some other species, e.g., in mice, dogs and cats, but no naturally occurring heritable reduction in the number of cervical vertebrae had ever been described before.

“Comparing the genetic material of healthy cattle with that of animals showing the defect, we could filter and sequence the three billion genetic pieces of a cow until we found the mutated chromosomal position that is unequivocally responsible for the defect”, explained Kühn. “Subsequently, we were even able to unambiguously identify the first individual with this mutation. Together with a genetic test, which we developed, this restricted a further spread of the deleterious defect in the cattle population.”

“Mutations in our germ cells are part of our life, in some sense they even are fundamental for biological diversity on our planet”, said Kühn, who recently took up a Professorship for Genetics of Disease Resistance at the University of Rostock. “These mutations happen; some have no, some have advantageous and some, like in this case, have very harmful negative consequences.

All living organisms, including humans, carry mutations. It is important, how we deal with them, especially in animal breeding, where we are responsible for the animals entrusted to our care. The very close and supportive collaboration of the partners within this project shows that together we can elucidate the background of such rare phenomenons and provide solutions for their handling.

*The Mammalian Cervical Vertebrae Blueprint Depends on the T (brachyury) Gene
http://www.genetics.org/content/early/recent
Genetics genetics.114.169680; Early online January 22, 2015, doi: 10.1534/genetics.114.169680

Photos FBN/Joachim Kloock:
Recollection to a thrilling search for clues – Prof. Christa Kühn demonstrates the six cervical vertebrae of a sire. His dam was the founding animal for dissemination of the mutation.

Leibniz-Institut für Nutztierbiologie (FBN)
Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf
Institut für Genombiologie
Abteilungsleiterin Genomphysiologie: Prof. Dr. Christa Kühn
E kuehn@fbn-dummerstorf.de
T +49 38208-68 709

Wissenschaftsorganisation Dr. Norbert K. Borowy
Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf
T +49 38208-68 605
E borowy@fbn-dummerstorf.de
http://www.fbn-dummerstorf.de

 

Norbert K. Borowy | Leibniz-Institut für Nutzierbiologie (FBN)

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>