The potential to secure improvements in animal health, welfare and disease resistance, are all implicated in the awarding of £1.9 million of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding to scientists at Roslin Institute in Edinburgh.
The new funding is designed to enable the Roslin team to “unlock the vast amounts of information held within farmed animal genomes” by establishing an infrastructure to probe the DNA sequences from domesticated animals that have already been decoded.
“It will provide an important framework for the discovery of genetic variation in domesticated animals and how that influences their characteristics,” said Roslin. “For example, it will help to uncover genes that are responsible for disease resistance in chickens or greater milk production in cows.”
Roslin’s head of genetics and genomics, Professor Alan Archibald, added: “Improving our understanding of the functional elements of farmed animal genomes will help us to understand how we might be able to influence characteristics such as disease resistance, through breeding programmes, for example.”
The BBSRC grant will be used to establish new hardware and computer capacity at Roslin, together with software developments relating to the study of animal genomes.
The funding is part of the BBSRC’s recently announced £7.5m investment in new infrastructure to tackle “big data challenges in bioscience”. The council’s aim is to improve the “storage and curation of enormous datasets that will unlock untold discoveries in important areas like health, agriculture and sustainable fuels”.