July 06, 2018

Recap of “The Next Genetic Revolution Through Vets & Animal Scientists”

Recap: Keynote “The Next Genetic Revolution Through Vets & Animal Scientists”
On July 5, 2018, Dr. Jennie Pryce opened the World Conference on Animal Production (WCAP) in Vancouver, BC with her keynote address discussing the next genetic revolution. Dr. Pryce is a Principal Research Fellow with the School of Applied Systems Biology at La Trobe University and the Principal Research Scientist in Computational Biology with Agriculture Victoria’s Biosciences Research branch. Dr. Pryce focuses on genetic improvement of functional traits in dairy cattle, optimizing breeding scheme design under genomic selection, and the development of dairy selection indices.
In her presentation, Dr. Pryce explained that genetic selection has revolutionized animal development and continues to improve the industry. In her own research, Dr. Pryce has focused on genetic selection and development in cows in Australia. She outlined that genetic selection has doubled the rate of genetic gain in Australia; specifically, there has been three times the rate of genetic gain since adopting genomic selection in the country. In addition, genetic selection has reduced the genetic interval - the average age of parents when they have the next generation has moved from 7 years to 36 months with the use of genetic selection. Genetic selection has changed the ways breeders select parents and can assist in disease management and control. 
Dr. Pryce outlined her team’s research concerning genetic traits of heat tolerance in cows, identifying traits associated with greater heat tolerance and higher production yield, proving the herd’s overall production. Dr. Pryce and her team are currently collaborating with teams across the world to collect phenotype data in various areas, including feed intake/efficiency to better assist breeders around the world. Dr. Pryce also hypothesized that the MIR (mid-infrared spectroscopy) prediction equation could be applied to genotyping and could be used to scale up the collection of phenotype data. 
This is an exciting era to be an animal scientist and/or veterinarian; there are huge opportunities for collaboration and the creation of new phenotypes to continue to improve the breed. Dr. Pryce‘s presentation has set the tone for the 2018 WCAP and encourages collaboration through all field of study.