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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCING GENETIC MERIT OF RUMINANTS THROUGH GENOME SELECTION AND ANALYSIS

Location: Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory

Title: African goat improvement project: a Feed the Future initiative harnessing genetic diversity for conservation, disease resistance, and improved productivity

Authors
item Huson, Heather
item Sonstegard, Tad
item Silverstein, Jeff
item Sayre, Brian -
item Rothschild, Max -
item Mujibi, Denis -
item Masiga, Clet -
item Soelkner, Johann -
item Van Tassell, Curtis
item Consortium, Agin -

Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 5, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Food production systems in Africa depend heavily on the use of locally adapted animals. These animals are of agricultural, cultural, and economic importance to humans, providing milk, meat, fuel, and income. These animals are also often part of local tradition. Goats, in particular, are critical to the small-scale farmer as they are easier to acquire, maintain, and act as scavengers in sparse pasture and marginal crop regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Indigenous goats, like cattle and sheep, have undergone generations of adaptation and genetic isolation or bottlenecks that have led to great phenotypic variation among populations. These indigenous goats serve as a genetic reservoir for the identification of genes important to environmental adaptation, disease resistance, and improved productivity under local conditions, which help to improve efforts to preserve germplasm. These differences can also be exploited in selection programs that maintain the adaptation to local conditions. Genomic selection can also guide the integration of appropriate indigenous adaptation mechanisms with improved productivity of exotic hybrids to promote sustainable high-producing herds. Finally, genetic variability can be used to identify regions of the goat genome responsible for observed differences through genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In addition, locally adapted Brazilian goats and an ancestral lineage of New Zealand Boer goats imported from South Africa will serve as population comparisons. This study provides a starting point for initiating genetic improvement and overall performance and productivity through enhanced breeding programs. To this end, the collection of DNA from individual goats within 10 African countries encompassing approximately 40 goat populations has been initiated. These individuals are being genotyped on the Illumina 50K Goat Beadchip for genetic characterization. A goat, Papadom, representing the San Clemente breed, has been identified as a highly inbred individual with increased genome-wide homozygosity and has been selected as the representative of the Capra aegagrus hirus species. DNA sequencing and genome assembly of this goat has begun. This assembly will serve as a genome reference for genetic characterization and gene localization of caprine animals. The characterization, development, and implementation of these genetic tools are the beginning of a collaborative effort initiated by the USDA and USAID, with key contributions from the International Livestock Research Institute, Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, and additional governmental and non-governmental organizations across Africa, Europe, New Zealand, and Brazil. The central aim of this project is to encourage cooperative efforts to develop and apply genomic tools for the identification and preservation of locally adapted goat populations, and to leverage these collaborations to enhance African expertise in genomics. The long-term goal is to develop genetically superior adapted goats to help meet the demands of local food security in a self-sustaining agricultural system.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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