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£1.9 million boost for animal genome analysis

Scientists at The Roslin Institute are aiming to unlock the vast amounts of information held within farmed animal genomes with the help of a £1.9 million boost from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

February 2015

The new funding will establish 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. For example, it will help to uncover genes that are responsible for disease resistance in chickens or greater milk production in cows.

Today technology to sequence DNA is both rapid and relatively cheap, resulting in vast quantities of available data to make new discoveries.

Our knowledge of the functional elements and in particular of the regulatory sequences within these animal genomes is limited. Identifying the functional elements within the genome and the consequence of variation in these functional sequences is essential for understanding the consequences encoded in the sequences and how we can influence characteristics, in breeding programmes for example.

Genome sequences are available for many domesticated animals, including poultry (chicken, turkey and duck), livestock (cattle, pig, goat and sheep), fish (cod, tilapia and salmon) and companion animals (dog and horse).

Research on domesticated animals has important benefits, including improvements in agriculture, animal health and welfare, and medical research. 

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.

Professor Alan ArchibaldHead of Genetics and Genomics at The Roslin Institute

The new grant will establish hardware and computer capacity at The Roslin Institute, The Genome Analysis Centre and the European Bioinformatics Institute, together with software, to enable the functional annotation of animal genomes.

This BBSRC grant will provide key infrastructure for the participation of Roslin, TGAC and EMBL-EBI in the recently launched international collaborative Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes (FAANG) initiative.

The FAANG initiative is concerned with addressing the need for high quality annotated genomes as key sources of information and critical for contemporary research in the biological sciences. It is valuable not only to academic researchers, but also to scientists working in animal breeding, animal health and pharmaceutical industries. This project is concerned with the infrastructure for delivering high quality annotated reference genomes to enable research on economically important animals.

The funding is part of the BBSRC's recently announced £7.5m investment in new infrastructure to tackle big data challenges in bioscience. Their 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.

"This recent funding is one example of BBSRC strengthening investment in big data infrastructure so that scientists can access vast quantities of data to create the knowledge that will be needed to tackle the challenges of tomorrow."

Professor Jackie HunterBBSRC Chief Executive

 

Research on domesticated animals has important benefits, including improvements in agriculture, animal health and welfare, and medical research.

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.

Professor Alan ArchibaldHead of Genetics and Genomics at The Roslin Institute