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Beef Up on Cattle DNA: What It Reveals About Human History

November 8, 2013

University of Missouri Professor of Genetics and Animal Sciences Jerry Taylor recently discussed how humans have impacted the bovine genome at the 10th Annual Corps of Discovery Lecture. Taylor collaborates with veterinarians, physicians and other scientists at the University of Missouri, taking a “one health/one medicine” approach to understanding both livestock and human health.

Story by: MU Web Communications

The tenth annual 21st Century Corps of Discovery Lecture at the University of Missouri features Jerry Taylor, Curators Professor of Genetics and Animal Sciences and Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Heralded as one of the world’s top experts in cattle DNA, Taylor will discuss the impact of humans on the shaping of the bovine genome since cattle were domesticated 10,000 years ago. Taylor specializes in the sequencing of and analysis of genomes, a branch of molecular and population genetics.

“I’m fascinated by the idea that a scientist can use the DNA sample of a living animal to shed light on thousands of years of history for that particular species,” says Taylor, adding that early human migration patterns can be traced through cattle genetics.

Humanity has left an indelible mark on the genomes of cattle. Once a wild species, cattle are now entirely domesticated and have been partitioned into a smaller number of groups called breeds. In North America, there are approximately 80 different breeds. Gene mutations found in domestic cattle are either indirectly selected to allow adaptation to the environment, or they are directly selected for increased milk production, docile temperament and other traits beneficial to humans.  See more…