Genetic map

To make buffaloes stronger

Published: Monday 31 March 2003

india's department of biotechnology has launched a us $1.2 million project to unravel the genome of the water buffalo. Nearly 90 per cent of milk consumed in the country is provided by these water buffaloes.

The three-year long project is aimed at improving the genetic pool of the animals. Farmers are neglecting certain breeds because they give poor yield of nutritious milk. For example, only 2,000 bhadawari buffalo are found across the country. Reason: their milk contains more than 14 per cent fat. "These breeds may not be economically viable but they have genes for traits that could be very critical in the future," says Satish Kumar of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology -- one of six laboratories involved in the project. Over 1,000 animals will be screened to construct a map of the animal's entire genome. This will be used to generate a set of dna markers for valuable traits, which can then be used to guide future breeding programmes.

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