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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program
Phase 5 (2012 Deadline)

Collaborative Research for Genetic Conservation and Improvement of Pakistani Goats

James M. Reecy, Iowa State University
Muhammad Moaeen-ud-Din, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University

Project Overview

Landless and small land holders in Pakistan, which make up more than 50% of the rural population, depend on small ruminants such as goats to sustain their livelihood. The 36 documented breeds of goat in Pakistan are particularly disease and parasite resistant, and are therefore well adapted to the harsh climate of the country. The main goals of the current study are: to reveal the genetic diversity of all 36 goat breeds of Pakistan; set a platform of molecular breed selection for meat type goat and to develop trained human resources.

Progress Reports

2014: To date all efforts have centered on collecting data on physical characteristics and DNA from at least 40 goats per breed within Pakistan. In addition, Drs. Reecy and Moaeen-ud-Din have developed links with the AdaptMap project, an international effort to evaluate domestication of goat breeds, genetic diversity, and to disentangle the genetics of adaptation around the world. As such, they will contribute all genotype and phenotype data collected in Pakistan and genotyped at Iowa State University to the AdaptMap project.

Graduate and undergraduate students have been recruited to take part in this project, including three Pakistani PhD students. It is expected that Dr. Moaeen-id-Din and his students will visit Iowa State University for analysis training of genotype to phenotype data. Within that time, statistical analysis of the genotype/phenotype data will be initiated.

2015:In phase one of the project, the team has undertaken a characterization of the genetic diversity analysis of Pakistani goat breeds. Genotype and phenotype information has been collected on 22 Pakistani goat breeds. There is tremendous diversity within Pakistan. The teams have implemented a capacity building program within this project to train post-graduate students and faculty in modern principals of animal breeding and genetics and genomics. A molecular biology Lab has been set up at PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi.

2016:Pakistan is an agriculture country and livestock contributes more to the national GDP than cash crops. Furthermore, poor landless or small land holders, which comprise more than 50% of the rural population, intimately depend on small ruminants to sustain their livelihood. This project is designed to characterize the genetic diversity within and between goat breeds present in Pakistan. Phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of Pakistani goat breeds have been collected. Results of this project have demonstrated that there is tremendous genetic diversity both within and between goat breeds within Pakistan. Furthermore, the genetic diversity of Pakistani breeds is greater than other breeds throughout the world. The second phase of the project has been initiated on the genomic selection of Beetal goats. It is expected that at the end of this phase that it will be possible to begin selecting genetically superior Beetal goats based on their genotype. Taken together, this project will have a positive impact on goat production in Pakistan.

2017:This project was designed to evaluate genetic differences between different breeds of goat in Pakistan. We sought to evaluate how similar or dissimilar Pakistani goat breeds were from one another. Genotype and phenotype data was collected from Pakistani goat breeds and analyzed to determine how closely related different breeds are. In addition, phenotype and genotype data were collected to identify regions of the genome that are responsible for variation in different traits, e.g. ear length, coat color, or horn shape. Furthermore, we collected data to identify regions of the genome that are responsible for variation in different traits. Recently, we were notified that our manuscript, where we describe the identification of the KITLG gene as a candidate gene for the ROAN phenotype in goats, was accepted for publication. We continue to analyze the genotype and phenotype data in order to identify regions of the genome that are associated with variation in traits. We expect to continue to identify genetic variation that can account for variation in phenotype.

The population data generated in this project has become part of the AdaptMap project. The goal of this project is to evaluate genetic diversity of goats worldwide. Interestingly, Pakistani goats are among the most genetically diverse breed in the world.