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NEW CRP: Improving Efficiency of National Livestock Breeding Programmes Using Nuclear and Related Genomic Information – Practical Applications in Developing Countries (D31030)

New Coordinated Research Project

A farmer milking his cow in an extensive dairy production system in Cameroon. (Photo: IAEA)

Livestock contribute significantly to global agricultural economy and are a major source of rural livelihood and food security. As global human population increases, so does the demand for animal-based food products such as milk, meat and eggs. Milk has greater significance in the human diet and production, especially in developing countries, and has to increase to meet the growing demand. Traditionally, dairy animal improvement is done by selecting and breeding genetically superior animals. However, this is a slow and expensive process, as it takes several years to determine the breeding potential of the animals. But now, thanks to advances in nuclear and related genomic technologies, it is possible to estimate this potential rapidly and much earlier and speed up the genetic gain for improving productivity. However, developing countries lack the necessary infrastructure (e.g. animal identification, performance recording systems, etc.) and modern tools/technologies to implement such advanced animal breeding programmes.

The IAEA is launching a 5-year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on applying nuclear and related genomic technologies for enhancing the efficiency of national dairy cattle breeding programmes to improve productivity and adaptability of local genetic stock. Three major dairy animal species, viz. cattle, buffalo and camel, will be targeted. The CRP will help to develop nuclear and related genomic tools/resources (e.g. cost effective DNA chips for genotyping, reference population for locally available breeds, radiolabelled biomarker assay for early pregnancy diagnosis, etc.) and establish strategies to incorporate genomic information for selection and breeding of dairy animals.

The CRP will comprise 10 Research Contract (RC) holders from developing countries, three Technical Contract (TC) holders and four Research Agreement (RA) holders from laboratories engaged in advanced animal genetics and breeding research. Nuclear techniques involving isotopes such as Cobalt-60 (radiation hybrid mapping), Carbon-13 and Nitrogen-15 (biomarker discovery) and Iodine-125 (early pregnancy radioimmunoassay) will be utilized to address the objectives.

CRP Overall Objective

The overall objective is to enable Member States, especially developing countries, to use nuclear and related genomic tools and resources for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of national breeding programmes for genetic improvement of dairy animals for increased productivity and adaptability.

Specific Research Objectives

  1. To strengthen phenotype and geo-location recording in dairy production systems (cattle, buffalo and camel) by using established and novel methodologies.
  2. To develop and/or validate nuclear and related genomic tools/resources (DNA microarrays, high resolution radiation hybrid maps) for selection and breeding of dairy animals.
  3. To apply genomics for estimating inbreeding, paternity, relatedness, adaptation, global and local admixture to support breeding decisions in cattle, buffalo and camel.
  4. To perform pilot genome-wide association on milk and disease resistance traits in local cattle, buffalo and camel populations.
  5. To build/strengthen reference populations and associated gene banks for applying genomic information in animal breeding programmes for dairy improvement in developing countries.

How to join this CRP

Please submit your Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 13 August 2021, to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. Note that the same template can be used for both a research and/or a technical contract.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should use the contact form under the CRP page

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