Bovine genome

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L1 Dominette 01449, the Hereford who serves as the subject of the Bovine Genome Project

The genome of a female Hereford cow was published in 2009.[1] It was sequenced by the Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium, a team of researchers led by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.[2] It was part of an effort to improve livestock breeding and at the time was one of the largest genomes ever sequenced.[3]


The size of the bovine genome is 3 Gb (3 billion base pairs). It contains approximately 22,000 genes of which 14,000 are common to all mammalian species. Bovines share 80 percent of their genes with humans; cows are less similar to humans than rodents (humans and rodents belong to the clade of Supraprimates) and dogs (humans and dogs belong to the clade of Boreoeutheria). They also have about 1,000 genes shared with dogs and rodents but not identified in humans.[4]

The charting of key DNA differences, also known as haplotypes, between several varieties of cattle could allow scientists to understand what is the role of some genes coding for products of economic value (milk, meat, leather). It opens new perspectives for enhancing selective breeding and changing certain cattle characteristics for the benefit of farmers.[5][6]


The Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium worked to sequence the genome over a six-year period, and included 300 scientists across 25 countries led by the U.S. NIH and the USDA.[2]

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  1. ^ "Science Podcast, 04/24/09 includes advances in livestock research including the sequencing of the cattle genome and insights into the history of sheep domestication". Science. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  2. ^ a b Elsik, C.G. # (2009). Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium. "The genome sequence of taurine cattle: a window to ruminant biology and evolution". Science. 324 (5926): 522–528. doi:10.1126/science.1169588. PMC 2943200. PMID 19390049.
  3. ^ Lewin, H.A. (2009). "It's a bull's market". Science. 324 (5926): 478–479. doi:10.1126/science.1173880. PMID 19390037. S2CID 206519929.
  4. ^ "Cow genome unraveled in bid to improve meat, milk". Associated Press. 2009-04-23. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
  5. ^ Gill, V. (23 April 2009). "Cow genome 'to transform farming'". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  6. ^ Gibbs, R.A. # (2009). Bovine HapMap Consortium. "Genome-wide survey of SNP variation uncovers the genetic structure of cattle breeds". Science. 324 (5926): 528–532. doi:10.1126/science.1167936. PMC 2735092. PMID 19390050.

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