W270 Goat Genomics Applied to Sub-Saharan Africa: A Livestock Perspective on Feed the Future

Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Time: 1:55 PM
Room: Sunrise
Curt Van Tassell , USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD
Jeffrey Silverstein , USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD
Heather J. Huson , USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD
Jennifer Woodward-Greene , USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD
Tad Sonstegard , USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD
In Africa both large and small ruminants are essential sources of milk, meat, and even fuel from manure. Ruminants act as savings accounts and can be slaughtered to readily generate income in difficult times. These animals are critical to the poor in marginal areas where crops cannot be grown and small ruminants, in particular, act as scavengers. To date, very little effort has been placed in genetic improvement in production outside of Europe. The majority of cattle, sheep and goats found in developing countries have undergone many generations of adaptation and genetic isolation or bottlenecks, which led to great phenotypic variation between breeds.  Identifying genes associated with disease susceptibility and resistance in locally adapted breeds is a starting point for initiating genetic improvement programs. These genes are potentially critical for sustainable improvement in production of locally adapted goats.  Genomic and genetic studies of sheep and cattle to find these survival genes have been somewhat successful; however, little has been achieved in goats. Of particular interest  are the genes involved in susceptibility and resistance to internal parasites. The central aim of this project is to catalyze an international cooperative effort to apply genomic tools to aid characterization of the structure of caprine genomes in locally-adapted, native breeds throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This information will serve as a foundation for developing plans to implement small ruminant improvement programs in Africa.