October 2019

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Gentec provides valuable contribution to Europe-led BovReg project

A partnership with the brand new $9 million, EU-funded BovReg project in Germany highlights the importance of Gentec data at the international level. Read more here.

Gentec is proud to be the very first official user of BovReg's logo, as seen here!


Former Gentec Director of Knowledge Mobilization Dawn Trautman won one of only 4 prestigious Nuffield Scholarships awarded for 2020. Dawn will focus on barriers to smart agriculture and opportunities for sustainable production. Read more here.

Former Gentec Master's student Nicky Lansink and Gentec researcher Leluo Guan both featured in whole-page layouts in UAlberta's Dept of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences latest annual report. Congratulations for getting great exposure for their research!

Catch up on your reading

  • In a 2014 article in the Journal of Animal Science, Everestus Akanno and colleagues evaluated the use of molecular breeding values for crossbred beef cattle. The article demonstrates remarkable longevity, being highlighted again on the American Society of Animal Science's website this summer (with quotes from the authors to boot). Read it here.
  • Also in the Journal of Animal Science, a new article, "Evaluation of a genomic-enhanced sorting system for feeder cattle" from Akanno et al was highlighted in an interpretative summary.
    Sequencing the bovine genome is allowing researchers to develop new ways to deliver more efficient and productive cattle. Gentec CEO Graham Plastow and Gentec-associated researcher John Basarab comment in this article.
  • On commercial pig breeding farms, growth and body fat are measured routinely, as are daily feed intake and feeding behaviour, these being the traits (as reported in 2000 by Plastow et al) that make the most efficient animals. All of these traits are relevant to phenotypes commonly used in obesity research, making commercial pigs an ideal research source for human obesity (as Plastow and Dominic Rocha found in 2005, in Nature Reviews). In 2019, the story is still going strong, with updates in People and the New York Times, among others.
    • Note: Rocha is co-lead of the BovReg project at INRA, France, along with Christa Kuhn at FMA, Germany.

UoGuelph opens Ontario Beef Research Centre

The new $15.5 million Centre in Elora will support research related to animal welfare, reproduction, and nutrition, as well as meat quality and safety, leading to improved animal and production practices. Partners are UoGuelph, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and the Beef Farmers of Ontario. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also provided a research contribution. Read more here.

Olds partners with Zone Startups Calgary to support new agriculture technology companies

Olds College has partnered with Zone Startups Calgary to support early-stage agriculture technology companies. Agtech start-ups will be able to test and validate their technologies at Olds’ Smart Farm, while Zone Startups provides commercialization programming and support. Read more here.

BioNet Alberta receives $3 million to support genome and bioinformatics research

ULethbridge, UAlberta, UCalgary, Genome Alberta have received $3 million from Genome Canada and other partners that will allow each university to establish a BioNet hub, with the Southern Alberta Genome Sciences Centre at ULethbridge serving as the lead hub. Read more here.

African swine fever could kill 1/4 of world's pigs

As African swine fever creates shortages in China and other important pork-consuming countries, there could be positive and negative effects in Canada.

Consumers aren't necessarily anti-GMO... they're pro-convenience

So demonstrates the success of the non-browning Arctic apple--because the company targeted consumer benefits, instead of farmer and corporate benefits as did the marketers of enhanced crops. Read more here. There are lots of take-away messages for anybody involved in knowledge transfer or extension to apply.

Precursor to CRISPR derails Brazil's plans for hornless dairy herd

Brazil was all set to go big on hornless dairy cattle, until the source bull was found to also carry bacterial plasmids, which suddenly made him genetically "modified." To make matters worse, the offending bacteria included a few genes for antimicrobial resistance. Read the full story and the fallout for all concerned here.

Origins of CRISPR

CRISPR has been the talk of scientific circles since 2005. Before that, it was just another "mad idea from a hare-brained scientist" and soundly ridiculed. More on that story here. Several steps and years later (see timeline), Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were the first to describe the use of CRISPR as a genome editing technology – considered one of the most significant biological discoveries of all time. That story is here.

Improvements to CRISPR tool

CRISPR/Cas9 is not 100% accurate, potentially leadings to cuts in unexpected locations and unwanted results. Now the team Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine team can package the Cas9 protein (the enzyme) and the guide RNA as ribonucleoproteins inside the lentiviral capsid, creating a faster, more efficient, lentiviral capsid-based bio-nanoparticle system for delivering CRISPR/Cas9. Read more here.

Farmers want to edit pigs’ genes to create disease-resistant herds. Will the technology pass US regulatory scrutiny?

If you have opened less than three Wall Street Journal articles this month, this article on the arrival of the pig industry's future in the face of feeding mouths in the developing world is free.

New gene-editing technique: Prime editing

A team from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has developed a new CRISPR genome-editing approach by combining CRISPR-Cas9 and a reverse transcriptase into a single machine. The system, called "prime editing," edits human cells directly in a precise, efficient and highly versatile ma. nnerThe approach expands the scope of gene editing for biological and therapeutics research, and could correct up to 89 percent of known disease-causing genetic variations.

The article doesn't mention the use of prime editing in agriculture but since the technology will be available to researchers at no cost, we thought we should at least let you know about it. Read more here.


November 1-10. Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Toronto, ON
November 4-December 10. Online Ag Management Program: Winter Feeding & Grazing.
November 4-6. AIC Conference – Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Agri-Food. Saskatoon, SK
November 6-10. FarmFair International. Edmonton, AB
November 12-15. Canadian Forage Production School, Eastern Edition. Moncton, NB
November 13-14. 2nd UAlberta Infectious Diseases Conference. Edmonton, AB.
November 13-14. Canadian Public Trust Summit 2019. Saskatoon, SK
November 13-14. Pig Welfare Symposium. Minneapolis, MN, US
November 19-20. Regenerative Ag Days. Brandon, MB
November 21. Supplementing your cow herd: Managing the pregnant cow for better calf performance. WEBINAR
November 25-30. Canadian Western Agribition. Regina, MB
November 28. Genomics 101. WEBINAR
December 2-4. Agricultural Excellence Conference. Fredericton, NB
December 2-5. Farm Forum Event 2019. Saskatoon, SK
December 6-7. 23rd International Conference on Food Fraud & Safety. Montreal, QC
December 10-12. Western Canada Conference on Soil Health & Grazing. Edmonton, AB
December 12. Steps to reduce disease in newborn calves. WEBINAR

The lighter side: Still talking history

Ancient DNA has revealed how the prehistory of the cow fits with the emergence of the first complex economies, cities and the rise and fall of the world earliest human empires. Read more here.
© 2019 Livestock Gentec, All rights reserved.

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