WASHINGTON––Scientists have finished the genome sequence of cows, which could contribute to better disease resistance and higher quality meat for consumers, according to reports to be published Friday in journal Science.
Scientists discovered the cattle genome contains at least 22,000 genes, 80 percent of which are shared with human beings. They also found that cattle have far more in common genetically with humans than mice or rats, and might make better subjects for studying human health.
“The bovine genome is more similar to that of humans than mice or rats at all levels, from genomic DNA rearrangements to shared genes and identity of their protein sequences” said Evgeny Zdobnov, one of the leading analysts from the project and a researcher at the University of Geneva and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics.
Comparisons of the domestic cattle genome sequence to those of the human, dog, mouse, rat, opossum and platypus could reveal new insights about the human genome, scientists said.
They warned that present cattle came from a diverse ancestral population from Africa, Asia and Europe that has undergone a recent rapid decrease in population size, most likely because of domestication.
“Understanding the cattle genome and having the sequence will allow researchers to understand the genetic basis for disease in domestic cattle and could result in healthier production of meat and milk while reducing producers’ dependence on antibiotics,” US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
The large-scale undertaking, led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the US Agricultural Research Service, mobilized more than 300 scientists from 25 countries over six years. PNA-XINHUA