Nav: Home

A new vision for genomics in animal agriculture

May 29, 2019

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University researchers are part of a team that designed a new vision for animal genomics research into the next decade. The blueprint they created could help scientists and farmers meet the needs of a growing global population while improving livestock welfare and production.

The blueprint, published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Genetics, drew on insight from personnel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa State and other institutions to identify areas of inquiry where USDA should direct research funds through 2027 concerning animal genomics, or the study of an organism's full set of DNA. The research priorities outlined in the document have the potential to improve efficiency in animal agriculture, said James Reecy, ISU associate vice president for research and a professor of animal science.

Reecy, who co-authored the new blueprint, said the effort updates an earlier document that set the tone for genomics research during the previous decade. That effort also relied on ISU expertise.

The blueprint was developed during two Maryland workshops that drew leading animal genomics scientists from the U.S. and Canada. Their work product will guide how USDA funds research internally through its Agriculture Research Service, and externally through its National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Iowa State supported the workshops through a NIFA grant.

"In the grand scheme, what the group is advocating for are priorities that will move the livestock industry to meet the protein needs of the world going forward," Reecy said.

Genomic technology took great strides in the last decade, but the blueprint calls for further progress that accounts for how other factors can work with genomics to improve production, he said. Future research should help livestock producers - particularly in the pork, beef, poultry and aquaculture industries - more accurately predict how their operations will perform based on a range of variables.

"We want to predict how environmental variation and management practices affect production as well," he said. "We want to know how genotype, production and environment interact with one another. That's the next step."

The blueprint predicts genomic technologies will play an increasingly central role in global livestock production.

"Ultimately, animal genome technologies will become part of mainstream agricultural production strategies used to improve animal health, well-being, production efficiency and product quality in ways that meet the demands of growing global populations," the document concludes.

ISU involvement

Iowa State's role in guiding animal genomics research dates back to National Research Sponsored Program 8, an effort to coordinate genomic research that led to the first USDA blueprint from 2008 to 2017. Max Rothschild, a Distinguished Professor of animal science and Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Agriculture, was a founding coordinating member of National Research Sponsored Program 8.

ISU scientists from a range of disciplines have turned their attention to transferring some of the innovations made in crop genomics to livestock. The ISU Office of the Vice President for Research launched an initiative to bring together interdisciplinary researchers at Iowa State to address precision livestock farming, which will lean heavily on breakthroughs in animal genomics. Iowa State hosted a precision livestock farming workshop last December that gathered some of the world's leading experts in the field.

Reecy said ISU scientists are studying innovative sensors and bioinformatics technology that could have new uses in animal agriculture, health and food science. All of this work points toward a new frontier for livestock producers. Advances will allow them to choose production methods that work in concert with animal genomics and environmental factors to improve productivity, animal welfare and reliability while also leading to better products for consumers.

"We want livestock production to become a truly predictive science," Reecy said.
-end-


Iowa State University

Related Agriculture Articles:

Post-pandemic brave new world of agriculture
Recent events have shown how vulnerable the meat processing industry is to COVID-19.
Agriculture - a climate villain? Maybe not!
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that agriculture is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases, and is thus by many observers considered as a climate villain.
Digital agriculture paves the road to agricultural sustainability
In a study published in Nature Sustainability, researchers outline how to develop a more sustainable land management system through data collection and stakeholder buy-in.
Comparisons of organic and conventional agriculture need to be better, say researchers
The environmental effects of agriculture and food are hotly debated.
EU agriculture not viable for the future
The current reform proposals of the EU Commission on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are unlikely to improve environmental protection, say researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Göttingen in the journal Science.
Global agriculture: Impending threats to biodiversity
A new study compares the effects of expansion vs. intensification of cropland use on global agricultural markets and biodiversity, and finds that the expansion strategy poses a particularly serious threat to biodiversity in the tropics.
A new vision for genomics in animal agriculture
Iowa State University animal scientists helped to form a blueprint to guide the next decade of animal genomics research.
New pathways for sustainable agriculture
Diversity beats monotony: a colourful patchwork of small, differently used plots can bring advantages to agriculture and nature.
The future of agriculture is computerized
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture Initiative have used computer algorithms to determine the optimal growing conditions to improve basil plants' taste by maximizing the concentration of flavorful molecules known as volatile compounds.
When yesterday's agriculture feeds today's water pollution
Water quality is threatened by a long history of fertilizer use on land, Canadian scientists find.
More Agriculture News and Agriculture Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.