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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program                                                            
Phase 3 (2007 Deadline)

Discovery of Genetic Variation that Enhances Improvement of
Dairy Production and Health in Cattle and Buffalos  

Tad S. Sonstegard, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD
Masroor Ellahi Babar, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Lahore
Pakistani Funding (HEC):  $ 351,000
US Funding (USAID):    $ 183,700

Project Dates on US Side:  April 1, 2008 - March 31, 2011 

Project Overview

The hypothesis underlying this project was that genome-wide information on genetic variation will increase accuracy of predictions of genetic merit; will enhance heritability and reliability of these predictions through improved pedigree information; and will improve detection of most quantitative trait loci underlying a trait when analyzed using linkage disequilibrium mapping. Therefore, the central aim of this project was to develop genomic tools to aid characterization of the structure and function of both the bovine and water buffalo genomes, and then apply these tools using novel statistical methodology to accelerate genetic improvement for traits of economic importance in both species.

Major Results

  • Developed commercial, high-density SNP assay applicable to temperate and tropically adapted cattle and generated more than 150 billion base pairs of sequence data from water buffalos for SNP discovery and genome assembly
  • Provided training to 304 undergraduate students, 121 graduate students, and 200 researchers
  • Created and improved research infrastructure at UVAS, including renovation of undergraduate lab, upgrading of postgraduate lab, and development of hi-tech lab, bioinformatics lab, and forensic facility
  • Created three new degree programs at UVAS, including BS in biotechnology and informatics, M. Phil/PhD in molecular biology and biotechnology, and M.Phil/PhD in bioinformatics
  • Obtained trust funding from International Water Buffalo Genome Analysis Consortium to generate a de novo genome sequence assembly of water buffalo and discover polymorphism applicable to selection in all breeds of buffalo
  • Established linkages with the Livestock and Dairy Development Department of the Government of Punjab

Quarterly Update

This project was completed on the US side as of March 31, 3011. Some of the data gathered and analyzed has been contributed to the ongoing International Water Buffalo Genome Project being led by Dr. John Williams of Parco Tecnologico Padano, Italy. Additional Pakistani students from UVAS may also be sent to USDA for training in the future. Dr. Babar is also working to strengthen linkages with the Livestock and Dairy Development Department of the Government of Punjab in order to bring the benefits of his research results to Pakistani dairy producers. He reports that the project allowed his lab to acquire the latest equipment for genetic analysis and bioinformatics, which has not only facilitated ongoing research efforts but also made it possible to organize relevant training workshops and new graduate-level courses at UVAS.

Progress Report Summaries

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