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Angus Genetics Inc. recently released two foot-score research studies on expected progeny differences, the first of their kind in the United States for beef cattle. The American Angus Association has been collecting foot scores since 2015, and now has about 12,000 data points. Members have reported scores for claw set and foot angle. The scores are based on a scale from one to nine, with five being ideal for both traits.

Plant breeders, livestock breeders, biotechnology companies and others use genomics to identify essential traits for crop improvement or animal performance. Meanwhile equipment manufacturers and genomic laboratories have been securing patents for genomic techniques and approaches. MarketsandMarkets has published “Agrigenomics Market,” an analysis of the genomics market by application, sequencer type and region. That market is projected to reach more than $13.5 billion by 2021. There are three major players in the market.

Holstein Association USA members set an all-time record by officially identifying 742,910 Holsteins in 2017, an increase of 8 percent or 52,357 more head than the previous record set in 2016.

Many of the genes responsible for the successful symbiotic relationships between legumes and soil bacteria remain unknown. To support research of those genes, the National Science Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to a consortium of scientists from the Boyce Thompson Institute, Noble Institute, Texas Women’s University, University of Delaware, Clemson University and University of North Texas.

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats – CRISPR – genome-editing technology recently was used to manipulate sequences within the promoter of genes important to crop yield. Promoters are regions of deoxyribonucleic acid – DNA – adjacent to a gene. They act like a dimmer switch to control when, where and at what level genes are activated during plant development.

Being able to use pan-genomes for crops would enable breeders to harness natural diversity to improve yield, disease resistance and tolerance of marginal growing conditions. In a paper published Dec. 19, 2017, in Nature Communications, an international team led by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’a Joint Genome Institute gauged the size of a plant pan-genome using Brachypodium distachyon, a wild grass often used as a research model for crops.

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  • Lynn Grooms lgrooms@madison.com 608-437-2827

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Farmers could soon test weeds in the field to see if they’re herbicide-resistant, thanks to new technology that combines genetic testing cards and data analytics.

The first rust-pathogen gene that wheat plants detect to switch on resistance has been isolated. Jiapeng Chen, a doctoral candidate at Australia’s University of Sydney, sequenced and analyzed the genome of a virulent rust isolate. That was the first step in addressing diagnostic challenges posed by ever-changing fungi, which result in new rust pathogen strains, said Robert Park, director of cereal-rust research at the University of Sydney.

A reprogramming mechanism that allows plants to pass their genetic material through generations has been discovered at England’s John Innes Centre. Researchers there made the discovery when studying germ cells – cells specialized for sexual reproduction – in flowering plants.

Registered Holstein herds excelling in type, milk production and genetic merit are recognized each year by Holstein Association USA. The association’s Progressive Genetics Herd award is presented to the farms of those herds.

  • Lynn Grooms lgrooms@madison.com 608-437-2827

MOUNT HOREB, Wis. – World Dairy Expo in October was a busy time for Martin Sieber and Sarah Baumgartner of U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Inc. They were involved in coordinating visits between international visitors and suppliers of U.S. livestock genetics.

Genetically modified Cavendish bananas with resistance to the soil-borne Panama disease have been developed by researchers at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology. Panama disease is caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense tropical race 4 – TR4.

A gene that enables resistance to a new strain of stem rust, a fungal disease hampering wheat production throughout Africa and Asia, has been identified by a team of researchers at the University of California-Davis.