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New breeding tools for improving mastitis resistance in european dairy cattle

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Online tools in the fight against mastitis in cattle

Breeding cattle that possess an inherent resistance to mastitis could provide a long-term viable solution against the disease.


The EC-funded MASTITIS RESISTANCE project sought to examine the genetic characteristics of European cattle found to be susceptible and resistant to mastitis. Isolating the genetic loci responsible for these traits is likely to allow selective breeding of cattle herds with natural immunity to mastitis, without the need for antibiotics and other means of control. Project partner, Roslin Institute, developed a software tool for the simulation and prediction of introgression programmes in livestock. Introgression essentially refers to the transfer of a specific gene from one gene pool to another by backcrossing with one of the parents. In this case, introgression programmes were of particular significance between resistant and non-resistant breeds of dairy cattle. The software tool, a GUI, Windows-compatible application, allows the user to modify and enter different sets of parameters in order to arrive at a realistic simulation accounting for all possible variations. The researchers are keen to enter into a joint venture agreement, which would allow the commercial exploitation of this tool.

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