Domestic animals: new El Dorado for geneticists
Bulls with bad genes…
Following this same approach to genomics, the laboratory of animal genetics at the University of Liège has taken an interest in recent years in the genome of certain breeds of cattle that breeders prize. Genetic selection among stock animals is without doubt as old as agriculture. Human beings understood very early on that their immediate interest, in seeking to reproduce stock animals, was served by selecting animals that had the most desirable qualities: docility, strength, endurance, quantity of meat produced, quantity of milk, etc. The equation that our ancestors knew runs like this: a good male plus a good female equals the best chance for a good line of stock. During thousands of years, this empirical approach to genetic selection established in every corner of the globe various specialized and divergent breeds. Breeders living in mountain areas, for example, preferred hardy animals that were smaller in size and better adapted to mountain grazing, while breeders living on plains attempted to breed larger cattle.