Friday, April 24, 2009

The Cow, Sequenced.

L1 Dominette 01449, the cow whose genome has been sequenced by scientists, with a calf. (Photo source: National Genome Research institute).

Today is a red tag day! The New York Times explains:

In the Genes of a Hereford, the Essence of Cow

By Denise Grady, April 23, 2009

Scientists have achieved what they describe as a major milestone in animal genetics: decoding the genome of the cow.

The findings provide “tantalizing clues to explain ‘the essence of bovinity,’” according to an essay in the journal Science, which is publishing several articles on the work.

The cows have not disappointed us,” [were truer words ever spoken?] wrote Harris A. Lewin, an animal sciences professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noting that the research had fulfilled its promise to provide “exciting new information” about the evolution of mammals and the workings of their genes.

The cow whose genome was sequenced was a Hereford named L1 Dominette 01449, one of the 94 million cows in the United States, where cattle are a $49 billion industry.

The project was a six-year effort that involved more than 300 scientists from 25 countries and cost $53 million. Part of the work involved comparing genome of the cow, Bos taurus, with that of the human, dog, mouse, rat, opossum and platypus.

Cows have about 22,000 genes, compared with the 20,000 or so estimated for humans, and about 80 percent of their genetic material is the same as humans’. In the way their chromosomes are organized, cows are more like people than are rats or mice.

See Also: Mooove Over Humans, the Cow Genome is Here (Science)


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