• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Genes identified in battle against bovine TB

SCOTS scientists have identified genetic traits in cattle that could enable farmers to breed livestock with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB) - a disease which leads to the deaths of millions of cattle and can infect humans.

Research, led by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, compared the genetic code of TB-infected animals with that of disease-free cattle, and found a number of "genetic signatures" associated with TB resistance in the healthy ones.

The study builds on previous research, which showed some cattle might be more resistant to bovine TB as a result of their genetic make-up. Scientists at the centre say the latest finding sheds further light on whether it might be possible to improve TB control through selective breeding.

Bovine TB, caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis, not only infects cattle, but other livestock and wildlife. It also remains a risk to humans, particularly in the developing world.

Despite intensive efforts, bovine TB continues to have a serious impact on livestock, affecting farm profitability and animal welfare. In 2010/2011, it cost the UK Government £152 million.

Professor Liz Glass, lead researcher for the study, said: "If we can choose animals with better genotypes for TB resistance, then we can apply this information in new breeding programmes alongside other control strategies.

"It is hoped that can help us to more effectively control TB in cattle."

Contextual targeting label: 

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.