Genomics pioneer set to beef up Australian cattle industry

Genomic selection could provide productivity gains to the Australian beef industry, according to recent research conducted at the University of Queensland.

Professor Ben Hayes, who joined the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, said that genomic prediction was now widely used in livestock and crops to help determine future trait outcomes.

“The aim of genomic selection is to identify superior variants of all the genes that contribute to important production, health and quality traits, and to bring them together in breeding lines in as few generations as possible,” Professor Hayes said.

“When combined with advanced reproductive technologies, genomic selection promises to deliver over the next few decades productivity gains that might have taken centuries to achieve with traditional selection.”

Professor Hayes is the co-inventor of genomic prediction for traits in dairy and beef cattle.

Genomic selection could address challenges in tropical crops and agriculture in general.

“Improvements to meat quality in particular, measured by tenderness and intramuscular fat, will allow a wider swathe of northern producers greater access to that high-value end of the Asian market.”

“We can use this DNA marker technology to accelerate gains in tropical pastures and legumes by improving drought tolerance and adaption to heat stress and seasonal variability, as well as protein levels and pest resistance,” Hayes said.

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