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Description Reproductive Genomics in Domestic Animals is a thorough examination of genomics in the livestock industry, encompassing genome sciences, genome biotechnology, and reproduction. Reproductive Genomics in Domestic Animals Description Reproductive Genomics in Domestic Animals is a thorough examination of genomics in the livestock industry, encompassing genome sciences, genome biotechnology, and reproduction.

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Sequencing the genomes of domestic animals could be beneficial to animal production practices, animal health and welfare, and to our understanding of the genetic basis of diseases in both animals and humans. Beyond these more applied areas of study, sequencing genomes also presents opportunities for increasing our basic knowledge of the evolutionary pathways of these and related species.

The precise benefits will vary somewhat from species to species, but in general they fall into three categories. The first, and most familiar category is the array of economic benefits that farmers, ranchers, and pet owners could expect from the genetic sequencing of their animals. For thousands of years, these animals have been bred for desirable traits, including disease resistance and rapid growth in farm animals, and the color of the coat or shape of the head in pets.

The precision of traditional, selective breeding is low and genetic change is poorly characterized. Theoretically, with information from a sequenced genome, it will be possible to have much more precision with breeding efforts and even to genetically engineer specific traits by adding, removing, or altering individual genes.

In agriculture, the traits of interest are primarily production traits, noted Steven Kappes, of the U. Kappes pointed out that in many cases scientists already have found the general location on a chromosome for a gene that expresses a particular trait in an animal. Once a particular animal genome is sequenced, it might be possible to determine which gene or genes affect a trait, and thus give breeders the information they need to enhance the production traits of that animal.

Besides the agricultural benefits, genomic sequencing of domestic animals will be important in a number of areas of basic science, particularly in understanding the evolutionary relationships between species. The genome of each species is the end result of millions of years of mutation and natural selection.

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The genome of every mammal alive today, for instance, can be traced back to the genome of an ancestral mammal that lived some million years ago, and the genomes of the different species provide a record of how the descendants of that proto-mammal gradually diverged into many different forms, as well as a guide to how today's mammals are related to one another. When we explore the evolution of a living species, we assume that its presence here today is the result of that species successfully adapting and negotiating the myriad of ecologic and environmental challenges over time, O'Brien explained.

Several other evolutionary questions can be addressed by sequencing a variety of mammals, O'Brien said.

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Some preliminary comparisons between humans and other mammals already have been made, said Harris Lewin of the University of Illinois, and they illustrate the kinds of discoveries that could be made by comparing full genomes. In the mouse, for example, there are to genes that are not present in humans or cattle.

Furthermore, O'Brien said, comparing the ways in which evolution has structured different genomes should help researchers uncover the logic of that organization. We have some clues in certain cases where the genes are clustered, but by and large we don't really understand whether it was a random process or whether there was an adaptive value to it. A third category of benefits to sequencing domestic animal genomes could have more immediate practical applications. When the human genome was sequenced, it was hailed as a major step toward finding new medical treatments and other means of benefiting human health, but it was only one step, and there is much that remains unknown about the human genome and how it structures human development.

By sequencing the genomes of other mammals, biomedical researchers seek to answer more of the remaining questions about the human genome and its potential for improving human health. What remains unknown about the human genome?

Reproductive Genomics in Domestic Animals

First, although the sequencing of the genome allows researchers to determine the genes that are characteristic of humans, the functions of most of those genes remains unknown. Furthermore, he noted, the genes make up only part of the genome, and the remainder is even more mysterious. Once a genome has been sequenced, there is still much more to do and many questions to address, noted O'Brien. To determine the function of human genes, for example, researchers can look for similar genes in other animals whose functions are known.

If scientists have identified a particular gene in the mouse and know what it does, they can search the human genome for a gene with a similar sequence and surmise that the human gene probably has a function similar to the one in the mouse. This is part of annotating—or creating a set of comments, notations, and references describing the experimental and inferred information about a gene or protein.

Bases are small, nitrogenous molecules, which in deoxyribose nucleic acid DNA occur in pairs base pairs.

But this base sequence information, or code, is useful only to the extent that researchers can interpret and apply it, which is why having other genomes available to study is so valuable. Harris Lewin offered one example of how the genome of another organism can benefit the understanding of the human genome. He compared a long stretch of human DNA with the corresponding stretch of DNA in the cow, looking for similarities and differences.