Researchers have sequenced almost 22 thousand genes to map the entire cow genome - a project that may also help human disease.
Professor Shoba Ranganathan, Chair of Bioinformatics in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, and PhD student, Elsa Chacko
from the Macquarie University, Australia were part of the international team of 300 scientists from around the world that pulled off the feat.
The huge project, which was published in the prestigious international journal Science
in April, has implications, not only for future genetic improvements to livestock quality, meat and milk production, but also for our understanding about the evolution of mammals.
Of the 22,000 genes, about 14, 345 have counterparts in seven other mammalian species including humans, rodents, dogs and possums.
Apart from the research's implications for the development of livestock and management of cattle populations, the genetic sequencing will also likely play a role in developing targeted medical treatments for human diseases.
With such a large group of scientists from 25 countries around the world working on the cattle genome project, regular communication was also a key priority - or as Ranganathan remarked: "Plenty of weekly conference calls around 7 or 8 in the morning."
Ranganathan and Chacko began their part of the six-year project 18 months ago. With particular expertise in alternatively spliced (AS) genes, they worked on the manual annotation of AS genes analysing 4567 AS genes and comparing them to human and mouse genomes.
They will also publish an additional paper on their findings within the next few months, Ranganathan said.
"We've made a significant contribution to the overall analysis and annotation of this large genome. Our specific results on transcriptome analysis will go into an additional paper, as there is too much information to be put into the main annotation paper," Ranganathan said.