Field trials

Most of the traits considered are in animal and plant genetic improvement programmes. LGC, Biosearch Technologies is helping to shape livestock research.

Assays used for QTL verification and disease resistance (5-10) can be used for screening for desired traits at field trial scale assessment (1000s of samples).

Most of the traits considered in animal and plant genetic improvement programmes are quantitative, i.e. they are controlled by many genes together with environmental factors, and the underlying genes have small effects on the phenotype observed. Milk yield and growth rate in animals or yield and seed size in plants are typical examples of quantitative traits.

In classical genetic improvement programmes, selection is carried out based on observable phenotypes of the candidates for selection and/or their relatives but without knowing which genes are actually being selected.

Traits could be genetically complex quantitative traits, involving many genes (i.e. so-called quantitative trait loci (QTL) and environmental effects.

Within the agricultural sector of crops, MAS holds great potential. There has been tremendous investment in the development of molecular marker maps and research to detect associations between phenotypes and markers.

Field trials in action

Biosearch Technologies is helping to shape livestock research. Using Biosearch Technologies’ technology, the Humboldt University of Berlin has been able to conduct a study to better understand milk fat yield in dairy cattle. Bull and cow populations, having a large number of records for different milk traits, are powerful to test candidate genes with low effects. KASP enabled the researchers to develop a better understanding of how BDNF can effect higher than the average levels of milk fat in cattle. This is of great benefit to the industry, offering the potential to increase milk fat yield amongst cattle without compromising on milk quality.