AFBI and QUB Researchers help find genetic resistance to TB in cattle
Scientists from the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh and local researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University (QUB) have found important new evidence of genetic differences between cattle in their resistance to bovine TB.
Findings have identified a number of genetic markers which are associated with an increased risk of acquiring TB.
The study involved comparing the genetic makeup of a large number of Holstein-Friesian cattle that had TB with matched herd-mates that did not have TB. Using the latest genomic techniques the researchers were able to analyse each individual animal at over 700 thousand genetic markers, generating more than a billion pieces of genetic information.
Preliminary findings have been announced at a meeting in London organised by the research funder, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). These findings have identified a number of genetic markers which are associated with an increased risk of cattle acquiring TB. Further analysis should help to better understand how cattle respond to TB infection, and provide new leads to improve diagnosis and vaccination strategies.
Previous work in AFBI has shown that multiple TB strains exist in the Northern Ireland cattle population. This new genetic analysis suggests that susceptibility to TB may also be influenced by the strain of TB encountered.
Speaking after the event, AFBI lead scientist Dr Robin Skuce said “We’re very encouraged by these new findings and we believe that, following further research and validation, genetics can play an important complementary role in control strategies. This study illustrates the value of scientific collaboration and the integration of both basic and applied research. It also reinforces the reputation of AFBI, QUB and Northern Ireland as a centre of excellence for bovine TB research.”